Apple Considers Buying Waze Map Service

Apple is apparently deep in negotiations to buy the online map service Waze. Sources say the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is willing to pay upwards of US$500 million for the company, although Waze is said to be holding out for $750 million.

Apple may be working on Waze purchaseApple may be working on Waze purchase

News of the potential deal came courtesy of anonymous sources talking with TechCrunch.

Waze's twist on the online map and navigation market is social networking. The company gathers map data through users as they drive, and is seen as generally more accurate than some other online map services since users are contributing information daily. In contrast, Google's Maps relies primarily on its own cars to gather data and street view photos.

Apple found itself with a marketing black eye after the release of iOS 6 in fall 2012 when it replaced Google's Maps for its own service -- a service that suffered from accuracy issues and missing location data. Apple responded with a public apology and a promise to "throw its weight" behind improving its Maps service.

The company also recently approved Google's own mapping app for the iPhone, which brought back features missing from Apple's own app such as public transportation information. With Google Maps available, competition in the navigation space ramped up a little, although Waze is apparently the only navigation app that gained serious traction after Apple released its own Maps app.

Apple also already has a working relationship with Waze since the company is providing some of the location data iOS 6 users rely on.

The notion that Apple could buy a company to help fix its mapping issues isn't new. Earlier in December, Rabobank International analyst Hans Slob speculated that Apple could make a bid to buy the navigation company TomTom.

At the time, Mr Slob said, "TomTom needs the cash from Apple, and Apple needs the know-how of TomTom."

Neither company is commenting on the report so for now we'll have to call this just a rumor, but one worth watching.