By Joe Levi | June 18, 2013 10:50 AM
Several months ago Waze, the insanely popular GPS navigation company, was in the middle of negotiations over selling their company to the highest bidder. Facebook reportedly want to buy Waze for the social aspects of the company. Google apparently didn’t want Facebook to become a competitor in that industry, so the two companies got into a bidding war. What would this new partnership be called? Facebook Waze? Facebook Maps? Google Waze? Google Maps and Waze?
As soon as the bidding started to heat up, I posted an article in which I made a very bold statement:
If either Facebook or Google buys Waze, I’m done. That’s right, I’ll close my account and remove the Waze app from my smartphone the day the deal is sealed. Some of the biggest features of using Waze will undoubtedly go away if Google acquires the company. Facebook, on the other hand, would now be trying to become my address book … and my navigation platform. I’m sorry, that’s too much information for one company to have.
I love Waze. I love the fact that they’re an Israeli company (after all, my surname is “Levi”). I like that they’re a “startup” and have done everything they’ve done “on their own” (without backing from or overreaching influence by major corporations). I’ve used them for a very, very long time. As of this writing, I’m in the top 21,354 of all Waze users world-wide, with just shy of 90,000 points. I’ve made 799 map updates, submitted 646 driving alerts (accidents, speed traps, road hazards, etc.), and have driven 14,270 miles (22,965 km) with the Waze app open, guiding me along my way.
What makes Waze different from everyone else is the fact that it’s all about the users. We help each other. We know that the more we use the service, the safer and faster we make driving for others using the app — and vice versa. In return we get a free GPS app that’s updated continually by people who are actually on the road, driving the same stretches of blacktop that we are. They have a vested interest in using the app and submitting reports. It’s a fabulous concept.
Google, on the other hand, has an impressive GPS navigation app. Their maps are pretty accurate, they show satellite imagery (if you so choose), and they even show and help route you around traffic problems. They don’t have much of a social component, and users cannot submit police traps, road debris, accidents, or any kinds of alert to help other users in the area.
Long story short: Google bought Waze.
After Pocketnow ran the story, readers started asking if I’d be true to my word and uninstall Waze. I haven’t. Not yet anyway. Since the news broke, I haven’t run Waze. In fact, other than opening their website to retrieve my statistics for this article, I haven’t even touched the app. How come?
Since the purchase, Waze has gone on the record with the following statement:
Nothing practical will change here at Waze. We will maintain our community, brand, service and organization – the community hierarchy, responsibilities and processes will remain the same. The same Waze people will continue to collaborate with you, and we will continue to innovate our product and services, making them more social, functional and helpful for everyday drivers. Our employees, managers, founders and I are all committed to our vision for many years to come.
That puts me in somewhat of a predicament. One one hand, I stand by my statement that I think that’s too much information for one company to have. On the other hand, Google already knows where I am since I use their Latitude and Local services all the time (not to mention the countless hours of Ingress that I play while on my way to and from work). The statement from Waze that it won’t fundamentally change means that it’s still the same company that I’ve grown to love over the years, which means a lot to me. I’m torn.
So, I put the question to you, Pocketnow readers! Are the reasons for making my original statement still valid and justified? If so, do they warrant me removing the app and closing my Waze account? Or should the statements from Waze satisfy my frustrations and convince me to go back on my statement, and continue to use Waze?
Let me have it, but don’t forget to include your reasoning, in the comments below!
Wow! I didn’t realize there would be such passion on both sides!
For those of you who stuck up for me, thank you! I appreciate it more than you can know.
For those of you who we so vocal about me “keeping my word”, thank you for standing up for journalistic integrity.
Both sides make valid points. As it stands now, I haven’t used Waze since the announcement, and after today’s discussion I have removed Waze from my devices. I sincerely hope Waze stays independent, but I’m afraid the hand of Google won’t be able to stay away long.