Of the plethora of iOS navigation apps, probably none is more unique than Waze. The free app uses group-sourced information about points of interest and traffic to make navigating fun. If you've ever tried the app, you know that you can actually turn driving into a game as you motor around town, getting points for driving over virtual markers or contributing information on traffic accidents, speed traps and construction. Now our sister site TechCrunch is reporting that Apple might be looking at acquiring Waze as a way to provide information for the much-maligned Apple Maps app.
Last month, there was speculation that Apple might buy Foursquare. But Foursquare is primarily focused on point-of-interest data, not routes or traffic, and it isn't widely used outside of the US. On the other hand, Waze has a huge international following, particularly in countries where Apple Maps has big issues.
Waze might also be a much less expensive acquisition for Apple to consider than Foursquare. It's expected that Apple would need to spend more than US$500 million to purchase Foursquare and would only gain POI information. By spending less than that amount to acquire Waze, Apple would have user-generated traffic data and extremely accurate route information. Waze already supplies some map data to Apple Maps.
Neither Apple nor Waze has said anything solid about a deal at this point, so like many "news" items that we're hearing these days before CES and Macworld/iWorld, it's simply a rumor.