The mergers and acquisitions process at Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) cannot be measured against those of most other companies. The search company is willing to take chances rivals would not because of its cash position, its habits as a company that has a culture of almost unmatched innovation, and its willingness to own properties that may not make money for years. Its probable buyout of map systems company Waze for $1.3 billion represents all three of these measures.
Reuters reports on the Waze acquistion:
Google is close to buying Waze for $1.3 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday, potentially trumping rival offers for the Israeli mapping start-up.
The report on the website of financial newspaper Globes did not cite sources or provide further details.
Last month sources told Reuters the Internet search giant was in talks to acquire Waze, while a second Israeli newspaper reported Facebook was willing to pay up to $1 billion for the firm.
Facebook is delving deeper into mobile technology as it tries to expand its user base.
Waze is a crowd-sourced, mobile-oriented navigation device for drivers that relies on information provided by its 47 million members to populate its maps.
Mapping services are among the five most-used applications on smartphones and are crucial to engaging and retaining mobile users. The key advantage of owning, rather than licensing, a mapping service is that it allows the product to be personalized for users.
The primary reason the buyout will be questioned is that Google already has the most widely used and widely respected map software in the world. Crowd sourcing has many critics because the opinions of a large number of people cannot replace powerful technology.
Google may make the buyout for defensive reasons. Competitors, which certainly include Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), need highly regarded rival map products if they hope to compete with Google in the sector, particularly as it moves to smartphones and tablets. The best maps give people one more reason to use the entire Google "ecosystem," with its large string of products that are considered superior.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Software Tagged: AAPL, FB, featured, GOOG