Looks like now Google is buying Waze for $1.3 billion

A month after rumors emerged that Facebook (s FB) was close to buying mapping data company Waze for a billion dollars, a new report from Israel’s Globes Online says that now Google (s GOOG) is looking to acquire the company for a whopping $1.3 billion. At this point we shouldn’t treat it more than just a rumor. Waze was also linked to Apple,(s AAPL) but Tim Cook denied any interest at the D conference earlier this year. The four-year-old company has raised $67 million in funds from the likes of Horizon Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Previous investors include Qualcomm(s qcom), Bluerun Ventures and Microsoft(s msft).

If Google buys Waze, then someone from Waze needs to send my colleague Mathew Ingram, a T-shirt. He astutely pointed out that Google should be snatching this company from Facebook or regret it later. Here is what he wrote:

Waze — which won our Launchpad event at Mobilize in 2009 — provides real-time informationabout everything from road closures and accidents to traffic backups and police speed-traps. The information is superimposed on a scrollable map, and there are also a number of social features built in, which allow users to see and share information, including messages, with other drivers. Waze even provides gas-price data.

Facebook has its own reasons for wanting a service like Waze, I think Google would be the real loser if it went to either of these companies, for the simple reason that Google Maps is a big part of the company’s mobile appeal — at least for me, and I would suspect for many others. Google Maps also has traffic data, and it is also based on real-time information, which comes from other users of the service who have their GPS location turned on. It is pretty accurate — but I don’t find it nearly as useful as Waze. I didn’t think enough people would take the time to enter information about things like traffic or speed traps into Waze to make it useful, but I was wrong. And Google doesn’t seem to have any plans to try and duplicate that, since it is more focused on automating that whole process, in typical Google fashion.