Published on December 13th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair0
Waze Team Will Be Folded Into Google Maps Division
The Waze team is being integrated into the same Geo division as Google Maps.
Waze is a very popular navigation app – arguably the most popular alternative to Google Maps in Malaysia, with a more driver-centric focus. Strangely both Waze and Google Maps are owned by the same parent company – Alphabet. Alphabet acquired Waze, an Israeli start-up, in 2013 for US$1.3 billion. They’ve since been keeping it running separately as an incubator for new ideas.
That was in the hey day of the app boom. More recently, Alphabet stock fell from its peak US$148.85 on 5 November 2021 to US$86.58 one year later. With that kind of financial pressure, Alphabet now is looking to move 500 Waze into under ‘Geo’, the division in charge of Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Street View.
There are no anticipated job losses for Waze save for their leader, CEO Noam Bardin. She will be departing her role once the transition period is over. Bardin famously called Google out saying that Waze’s popularity was due to the company’s own work and not due to support from HQ. She also accused Alphabet of just adopting Waze’s ideas to Google Maps rather than nurturing and promoting the Waze app.
It still has 151 million active monthly users and features more detailed, crowdsourced traffic data than Google Maps. It also has a more active advertising business than its primary rival, serving ads to petrol stations, drive-thrus and more when users are stuck in traffic. However, 151 million monthly users is tiny when compared to Google Maps’ 1 billion monthly users.
What will happen to Waze going forward?
Based on a statement by an Alphabet spokesperson, Waze will continue to operate following the employee reshuffle. “Google remains deeply committed to Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users,” said the spokesperson.
It seems like the Waze app will continue to exist independently for now. Perhaps over time the Waze 4.0 app interface will begin to integrate more of Google’s design language and more of its services. Perhaps Google Maps will begin to integrate Waze’s crowdsourced traffic and hazard warnings.
Personally, I use Google Maps for in-car and walking navigation most of the time. I do still use Waze when I go on interstate trips as the app more effectively warns drivers of dangers on the roads up ahead such as accidents, heavy traffic, road blocks and more. Having these warnings makes a world of difference, as it gives drivers time to slow down, move to a slower lane and prepare.
That being said, I don’t quite enjoy using Waze for finding places I’ve never been to before or for in-city navigation as I find the look and feel of the app a little too cluttered.