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It appears Facebook is trying to secure its own future in the mapping technology space — a report from TechCrunch states that Facebook is in talks to buy social traffic and navigation app Waze for $800 million to $1 billion. According to that report, negotiations have been ongoing for the past six months and have really boiled down to whether or not Waze will remain in Israel or move its headquarters to the United States.

Could Waze help Facebook compete in the mapping world?
Could Waze help Facebook compete in the mapping world?

For Facebook, maps haven’t played a big part in the company’s plans up to this point. All of the major tech players have some kind of mapping technology to hang their hats on. Google has Google Maps. Microsoft has Bing Maps. Apple introduced its own Maps app last year, based on the mapping technology it purchased from C3 Technologies, Placebase and Poly9. Facebook may be feeling pressure to introduce its own entry, and that is one reason why an acquisition of Waze could happen.

Those tech giants previously mentioned — Google, Microsoft and Apple — do have mapping technologies, but they also have other things that Facebook doesn’t have — their own mobile operating systems. Could an acquisition of Waze bring Facebook one step closer to launching its own dedicated phone OS, or possibly its own phone? While it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, it’s an idea we shouldn’t rule out completely.

In the meantime, buying Waze could help Facebook reach additional mobile users on top of the ones that use the company’s Facebook, Messenger, Camera and Instagram apps. And those users can provide Facebook with crowd-sourced traffic and travel data, though what this data would be used for is unclear at this time. Perhaps Facebook could build a “Find My Friends” or “Latitude”-type feature using Waze? Such a feature would utilize a Facebook user’s social graph and would also make use of Waze’s mapping technology.

This is just a report and both companies have refused comment, but there seems to be quite a bit of smoke here. If we hear any new information about the Facebook and Waze connection, we’ll keep you up to speed. Until then, stay tuned.

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