Mobile

Google’s Waze acquisition sparks FTC antitrust review

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Google and Waze, two of the leading companies in the mapping industry, may be a match made in heaven. But Google’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the social driving company has, not surprisingly, signaled some alarm bells with antitrust authorities.

Google confirmed today that the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the Waze deal, the Wall Street Journal reports. At this point, investigators are likely exploring how the deal would affect the mapping market, but there’s little chance it would be called off, antitrust lawyers tell the WSJ.

Waze’s apps offer GPS navigation, but they also let drivers send and receive details about road conditions in real time. Ultimately, that means Waze is more useful than standard GPS apps when it comes to figuring out how to avoid traffic jams or speed traps.

We’ve heard Waze was flirting with other suitors before it settled on Google’s deal. Facebook reportedly made a $1 billion offer for the company, but for whatever reason those talks fell apart. Microsoft, an investor in Waze, may have been interested in the company as well.

Google previously said it will keep Waze’s app independent but would also use the company’s traffic data within Google Maps. And of course, Waze would also get some of Google Maps’ technology.

Today’s announcement follows a letter from activist group Consumer Watchdog urging the FTC to kill the Google/Waze deal.

“With the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space,” wrote Consumer Watchdog privacy project director John Simpson in the letter. “Approval of the Waze deal can only allow Google to remove any meaningful competition from the market. … If the acquisition comes before you, I urge you to reject it in the strongest possible terms.”