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FTC Reviews Google's Purchase of Navigation App Waze 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-closer-look dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google's acquisition of Waze has piqued the interest of the FTC and is now facing an antitrust review. "Google confirmed that it has been contacted by lawyers from the Federal Trade Commission over the company's '$1.1 billion acquisition of the mobile navigation company Waze, which closed in mid-June. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the antitrust review by the FTC. Representatives of the agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.'"
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FTC Reviews Google's Purchase of Navigation App Waze

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:32PM (#44087565)

    I guess the question is, is this Google trying to shut out a potential competitor (I don't see them being a real threat, the technology is easy to copy before they get too big), or simply buying up obvious top talent. I think its the later in my mind.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:35PM (#44087585) Homepage Journal

      I guess the question is, is this Google trying to shut out a potential competitor (I don't see them being a real threat, the technology is easy to copy before they get too big), or simply buying up obvious top talent. I think its the later in my mind.

      if it's like a normal google acquisition it's the latter - but will end up effectively as the former.

      • There may be some element of data-buy as well. Just ask Apple how easy it isn't to build good maps fast.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Wayz does not build good maps.
          Its a one trick pony: Traffic reporting.

          • by msauve (701917)

            Wayz does not build good maps. Its a one trick pony: Traffic reporting.

            Waze developed their own maps. The others who've done that are Navteq, TomTom (Tele Atlas), and Google.

          • by dwillden (521345) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:37PM (#44088123) Homepage
            Waze's maps on initial import from official sources are poor. But are rapidly exceeding the quality of the maps of services (including Google) which are built entirely by paid employees. Even Google's adoption of user editing has still lacked in the rapid update ability of Waze.

            When there are active editors in an area (a key criteria) the maps are accurate and update to match new construction far more quickly. When something significant happens (for example the Hwy 89 landslide in AZ back in Feb, or the bridge collapse in WA). Waze's maps are updated within minutes of the news being reported. Google was quick on the AZ slide but still trailed by a couple days. Waze had the road disconnect, implemented and updated into the live map within 24 hours, changing the routing instructions users received to take them on one of the alternate routes. (I know, I made the edits in Waze.)

            When I started with Waze I immediately liked it because of two new commuter routes that had been recently built, my Tom Tom still didn't have the older of the two routes even though it had been in existence for two years by then. Google had that one but another one that opened up just a couple weeks before was already mapped into Waze and Google didn't have it yet. Waze's maps are good, and if an area has active editors are more accurate than even Google's maps and overhead images.

            I do grant that in many areas there is still much to be done, but Waze's maps even in the areas needing work are improving faster than Googles.

            There are even countries with entirely user built road networks that are not only more complete but more accurate than what Google or anyone else has. Waze is NOT a one trick pony, live traffic reporting and on the fly re-routing is the primary reason for it's creation, but it has progressed beyond that point.
            • by petman (619526)
              Not entirely by paid employees. Waze allows users to edit maps using an online map editor.
              • by Krojack (575051)

                Which from my experience was very slow to apply those changes. Two of the major highways in my city raised the speed limit from 55 to 65 on one and 70 on the other. I submitted these changes and it took 1 1/2 years till they appeared in Waze. I was pretty shocked it took that long assuming they even looked at my submission.

                • by tag (22464)
                  What alpha version of Waze have you been running for more than 1 1/2 years? Displaying a speed limit is one of the most-requested features for Waze, but it's not in there yet.
              • by dwillden (521345)
                You miss-understood me, I was saying Google, and the other services rely heavily on paid map-makers. Waze relies almost entirely on users.
            • by adolf (21054)

              Google allows maps to be updated by end-users. There is an approval process, and a system that seems to operate somewhat like Slashdot's karma/moderation system.

              So Waze isn't so different, unless it allows direct editing by end-users.

              And if it does allow that, then Waze is not so different from OpenStreetMap, except for being less open.

              Indeed, I'm not sure, as an end-user, what advantage Waze has for the mapping data.

              However, I did use it today for the first time. I was struck with joy when I was able to

              • by dwillden (521345)
                Waze does allow users to directly edit, similar to OSM, they chose not to use OSM's map data as they did want to retain control over the data for commercial purposes, something that OSM's license would not allow. While at times an approval or verification system is nice, in Waze if a road is sensitive in nature or critical infrastructure needing protection editing abilities can be locked to higher level, more experienced editors (most interstates are so locked).

                The problem with Google's system is in the ap
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              So you and thousands of others are working for free for a for-profit company on a proprietary platform? And people wonder why there's so much unemployment...

              Nothing new, though. Games have done this for years with open betas. Hell, some games charge people to beta test their games!

              While that in itself boggles the mind, wouldn't your time be better spent contributing to Openstreetmap, which is open and can't be appropriated by a megacorp?

              • To begin with: Waze *started* with using Openstreetmap (and somehow even announced that their own edits they would give back to OSM, of course, since otherwise given the open license they'd had had just no right to use the maps)

                So yes, what we're all talking here is just some private editing interface to Openstreetmap, that's restricted to fast-updating traffic-jam-generating roadworks issues basically.

                On /. I'd better appreciate a larger discussion about how to maintain Openstreetmap independent, for insta

                • by Sleuth (19262) *

                  While an interesting point, it's not quite that good. I don't believe any more updates are being pulled from OSM. Only the initial base maps used OSM in some areas.

                • by dwillden (521345)
                  As to the Hwy 89 edit I don't know how quickly OSM reacted to it. I was mostly checking to see when I started getting alternate routing instructions via Mapquest, Google Nav and Waze (and even that watching was mostly just cursory checks)

                  As to the parent post, OSM doesn't drive the navigation instructions on my smart phone. If it did, then it would get my time. I started editing to make the local roads work better, I kept editing because it was fun to do, and fun to see my efforts make a difference. Per
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          There may be some element of data-buy as well. Just ask Apple how easy it isn't to build good maps fast.

          well yeah, I've heard opinions that wazes userbase(data!) is the reason for it getting bought. but for that to stay relevant they need to keep the users and not kill the product - even migrating the users to a google product might prove to be quite a challenge.

          of course if we are talking about why it was valued so high then the reason is just that, the users and the data generated by the users which they show to the users... the tech alone wouldn't have fetched a million dollars from any buyer..

          • There may be some element of data-buy as well. Just ask Apple how easy it isn't to build good maps fast.

            well yeah, I've heard opinions that wazes userbase(data!) is the reason for it getting bought. but for that to stay relevant they need to keep the users and not kill the product - even migrating the users to a google product might prove to be quite a challenge.

            of course if we are talking about why it was valued so high then the reason is just that, the users and the data generated by the users which they show to the users... the tech alone wouldn't have fetched a million dollars from any buyer..

            They can replicate the data from waze to google maps, thus minimizing the update lag between the two

      • (I don't see them being a real threat, the technology is easy to copy before they get too big)

        There are such things as software patents, you know.

    • by icebike (68054)

      According to TFA:

      Some antitrust lawyers say it is unlikely the FTC would ask Google to unwind the deal. In order to break it up, the agency would have to uncover evidence that the deal would significantly crimp competition in the mapping market.

      Waze’s revenue was too low to trigger an automatic review by the agency, but it can examine such deals even after they close.

      So reading between the lines, someone probably complained, because Waze is too small to affect the market place, already crowded with mapping companies ranging from Nokia to Apple to Microsoft to Tele Atlas. I wouldn't be surprised to find any of those names on the original complaint.

      Of the companies that might benefit from merger of Wayz technology clearly Google is the top candidate.
      They Google is the only company other than Microsoft that has made a push toward real-time traffic analysis

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The NSA has bugged your car (GPS + microphones), so all you need to do is mention there's an accident and they'll know.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        So reading between the lines, someone probably complained, because Waze is too small to affect the market place, already crowded with mapping companies ranging from Nokia to Apple to Microsoft to Tele Atlas. I wouldn't be surprised to find any of those names on the original complaint.

        There aren't that many, actually

        You have Tele Atlas and Navteq for maps available commercially. TomTom owns Tele Atlas. Nokia owns Navteq.

        Google uses a combination of Tele Atlas and Street View (the Street View generates maps,

        • by icebike (68054)

          Google uses a combination of Tele Atlas and Street View (the Street View generates maps, and where there isn't street view data, they use Tele Atlas.

          That tells a tiny part of what goes into Google Maps.

          Google has dozens of major mapping sources and partners. Actually hundreds or thousands, when you count all the State and Local government in the US Canada and parts of Europe. Google pays fees to these these governments for the data and in return offers them imagery they might not be able to afford on their own. Zoom in to Trenton New Jersey, or San Francisco, CA. You will actually see LOT LINES in neighborhoods. This is true in many many places, an

    • Waze figured out a way to make their users want to share their location data. Waze also leveraged that information to build a sort of self-healing map. If you are in a place like the Bay Area where there are enough users, the Waze traffic routing is vastly superior to anything any competitor has. A few months ago there was a dumb error in a google map that tried to send me on the freeway sought to the next exit get, off, turn around, get back on north and get back off, when I just wanted to drive over th
    • by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:26PM (#44088063)

      I'm sorry, what exactly makes Waze's talent "top" as opposed to any other software company out there that could get bought?

      And if Google is hurting for talent (something tells me it isn't), surely they could hire people for less than $12 million per head in this difficult job market.

      The only talented person in this transaction was whoever convinced Google to pay over $1.2B.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        What Waze offers isn't special, Google could have copied all of it, from real time traffic to police speed traps to allowing users to update the map. Look how much Android pulled from iOS.

        Google bought Waze for one reason only: to keep competitors from buying them.
        • Look how much Android pulled from iOS.

          Odd ... seems to be the other way around these days (iOS6 - notification bar; iOS7 - swiping apps off the task manager screen to kill them...)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    piqued

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:33PM (#44087575)

    Let me answer that:

    Google didn't need Waze. This is a purchase to keep Waze out of Microsoft or Apple's hands. They won't admit it but It must be painful for Microsoft because they are a Waze investor. [bgr.com]

    • Thats what I was thinking.

      Reminds me of Microsoft of old. Where they would buy competition or buy a company a competitor needs to bring their product to the market in order to hurt them. Google is turning into the new MS, as MS turned into the old IBM before.

      FirefoxOS needs a good maping program to succeed and right now Google is the monopolist. Bing maps suck with Windows Phone and is one of the reasons why I didn't buy one.

      Apple owns the market with music too. If you listen to music a lot on your phone th

      • by icebike (68054)

        I will point out that Firefox gets almost 100% of its funding from Google, so It seems unlikely they will be setting up their own traffic or mapping service.
        There are limits to Google largess.

        • I will point out that Firefox gets almost 100% of its funding from Google

          Its gets that funding by...being the default search. In fact Apple received $400Million (Raising to $1Billion) for being the default search on their(not your) iphone. In fact Firefox will likely get even more money if FirefoxOS is a success.

          The only problem is nobody wants to compete with Google in the search arena, even Microsoft don't want Bing, Yahoo can't compete now(being Microsoft Bitches)...and Apple giving cash back to investors(now they listen to Dell)

          • by Clsid (564627)

            I don't know about you but I use Bing everyday. It is the only true alternative to Google Search imho.

          • Bing is part of iOS 7 if you have been watching the news?

            Also Firefox came out with a version with Bing that you can search for and MS supports. Only after this did Google relent. They originally planned to halt payments or pay less and Firefox was about to go all bing on them in return.

            I am not saying it is better but any Android phone from Verizon is bing only and locked where you can't change. Mighty evil for MS to do as Google losses money for each one and makes it up with search results. ... but hey Bi

      • Apple owns the market with music too. If you listen to music a lot on your phone than an iphone would be better than Android. Android better for those who travel

        Seriously never get a job selling phones. Apple sell a lot of music...they owned the now defunct mp3 player market, but that market is dead (okay last legs), and itunes is looking a clunky relic, and music playing and purchasing from through the cloud with your favourite application can be done on the cheapest Android without any of that ugly legacy baggage.

        On the flip side Google offer a competing service on the Apple phone, the embarrassment from Apple came from replacing that service with an obviously in

        • Seriously never get a job selling phones.

          What an ironic foreshadowing!

          itunes is looking a clunky relic, and music playing and purchasing from through the cloud with your favourite application can be done on the cheapest Android without any of that ugly legacy baggage. ... and also on any iPhone. Talk about being someone who doesn't know anything about phones! You haven't needed to use iTunes on a PC for what, six years?

          Seems like you could probably get a job at Radio Shack with that level of technical

        • Speaking as someone who has never had the misfortune of using SamSung Kies to sync their galaxy. Itunes doesn't look half bad in comparison!

      • Everyone prefers Bing to Google. Microsoft keeps telling me that, so you must be wrong.
    • Why didn't Google need Waze? I mean, 'need' is a strong term, but are you asserting that they have no use for a mobile crowdsourced traffic service to go with their mobile map/directions service?

      • by icebike (68054)

        Why didn't Google need Waze? I mean, 'need' is a strong term, but are you asserting that they have no use for a mobile crowdsourced traffic service to go with their mobile map/directions service?

        Because Google's crowd sourced traffic info already exceeds Wayz coverage and accuracy by several orders of magnitude.
        The get it from GPS location of millions of android phones.

        Question: Have you indeed NEVER turned on the traffic layer in Google maps?

        • by kkwst2 (992504)

          As others have pointed out, there are things that waze does better than google, such as the real time updates of map errors and traffic reports. Google maps has to wait for the traffic to start backing up, and that can occasionally screw you. Waze seems to sometimes be able to warn you before the cars really stack up.

          If google could integrate some of these ideas in improving the speed of real time updates, it could drastically improve the usefulness.

          Also, the rerouting functionality of google maps is pret

          • Google maps has to wait for the traffic to start backing up, and that can occasionally screw you. Waze seems to sometimes be able to warn you before the cars really stack up.

            That's because if a Waze user is driving by as an accident happens or just after, they can mark it on the map.

            The question is, will people stay after Waze is owned by Google? I used Waze because I didn't want my traffic data fed into Google to correlate with everything else I do.

            The problem is, nothing else quite like Waze exists so th

            • That's because if a Waze user is driving by as an accident happens or just after, they can mark it on the map.

              And cause another accident while doing so.

            • by Muad'Dave (255648)

              That's because if a Waze user is driving by as an accident happens or just after, they can mark it on the map.

              You know, that is my major complaint with Waze, unless I haven't figured this out. If I drive past an accident, or more recently have a near-tornado drop trees across a bunch of roads, I CAN'T MARK THE EXACT SPOT OF THE INCIDENT!

              Dear Waze, All I want is to be able to tap the map on the exact spot of an issue and add an incident report. I DO NOT EVER WANT YOU TO USE WHERE MY CAR IS WHEN I TAP THE SCR

              • There are a number of times by the time I was able to get to mark something on Waze I'm really too far past it to mark anything accurately...

                I think the reason they do that though is to prevent too many false reports. Because it's fixed to where you are you can't have too many people lying about things.

                One thing they could do though is to limit reports to places you had been in the past five minutes, or along the general road you are on going back a few miles.

                I guess with Waze being bought by Google it's t

          • Also, the rerouting functionality of google maps is pretty limited

            Forgot to comment on this - believe me, Waze has NOTHING to teach Google about routing. As you say they have better information when something happens to trigger a re-route, but Waze has sometimes really bad routing. I would use pretty much any app except Waze for routing (though I do like how Waze displays all known events along the route it has picked).

            • by kkwst2 (992504)

              Well, that may be true. But Waze seems to give you more options. I've not used it long enough to judge whether the options are bad, so I'll hold judgement. But when I try to reroute it seems to give more varied options, and thus far they've been pretty reasonable.

            • by bonehead (6382)

              Yeah, the Waze routing can be truly horrible sometimes.

              On one trip I used to drive regularly I would skip a turn it wanted me to take and take a different route that I preferred. Even an hour down the road later, Waze re-routing was telling me to turn around, retrace my steps, and take the path it had originally selected.

              I also don't like the idea of being told to take a certain path just because Waze wants to collect data about that road. I want the best route, not the one that will get them data that th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OP: phrase should be "piqued the interest of the FTC".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @06:41PM (#44087873)

    "piqued"

    You fucking illiterate editors.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Editors are fucking illiterate morons. "piqued"

      You fucking illiterate editors.

      Who cares if its piqued or peaked, the real bit of news is that the Slashdot Editors are fucking illiterate morons. But as we don't want illiterate morons to procreate, they better be using protection so that the illiterate morons don't have any children.

      Hey, don't complain OP, if you want to be a pedantic smartass, I'm allowed to be one too.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Agreed, 4 posts on something that is not even technically wrong.

        While not using the old phrase, "peaked their interest" is syntactically correct. [wiktionary.org]

        Peaked is the simple past, and past participle, of the verb "peak".

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          It's not syntactically wrong, it's semantically wrong. "peaked" implies that FTC's interest has reached a maximum, and is now declining. "piqued" means FTC's interest has just started. The author clearly meant #2.

          The only thing worse than people being illiterate morons is people making up ridiculous excuses for illiteracy.

    • Piqued: plucked/triggered/alerted etc...., Peeked: took a quick look at, Peaked: reached the top, or having a pointed top, or looking peaked=looking sick Or something like that
  • The same FTC that allowed Comcast to buy NBC? Now they are concern trolls?
    • by Thantik (1207112)

      That's because Microsoft is the one pushing this "antitrust" bit, hoping that it'll stick. They've been doing it for the past 2 years.

  • Horsecrap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @09:52PM (#44088755)

    Disney didn't face any review when they bought Lucasfilm, Pixar and Marvel all within a few years of each other.

  • I mean (from Wikipedia/US antitrust law) "they restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations which could substantially lessen competition". Last I checked there are dozens of navigation apps and companies there, and by dozens I really mean nx12. Plus, it's not like "the" two market leaders merged to monopolize the market (i.e. "they prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power"). Overall, I really don't see much of an issue here, aside the fact the Google managed - again - to
    • by Laxori666 (748529)
      "antitrust" basically means "one or more of your competitors managed to convince some people in the government to give you some trouble for their own benefit". What a great system we have here in America.

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