Mobile Apps

Google Puts Waze Traffic Data on the Map

Google on Tuesday announced that it is incorporating real-time traffic data from Waze into its popular Google Maps mobile application.

“Users of Google Maps for Mobile will now benefit from real time incident reports from Waze users,” explained Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps. “This means when Wazers report accidents, construction, road closures and more on Waze, the updates will also appear on the Google Maps app for Android and iOS in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, UK and the US.”

Waze provides real-time, crowdsourced traffic reports and was acquired by Google in June. Tuesday’s announcement represents one of the first visible fruits of that union.

Google declined to provide further details.

‘The Personalization of Mapping’

Google has already managed to chart a solid course for its map offering, of course, and has even successfully merged that technology with search, giving the company a considerable advantage over the competition in the map space.

“What we are seeing here is a steady evolution of the personalization of mapping,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld.

Whereas MapQuest and many of the other early mapping companies “were simply taking what was on a physical map and putting it online,” Google “has gone quite a bit further,” King pointed out.

For example, “we’re seeing companies such as Google integrating the locations on a map with ratings for businesses,” he noted.

Waze, meanwhile, “is now taking that a bit further,” King suggested. “This allows users to upgrade the maps on an almost real-time basis. This allows them to provide real-time traffic situations as well.”

‘A Big Slice of the Pie’

Of course, just as Google dethroned MapQuest and other rivals, last fall’s debacle by Apple on the mapping front showed that it is not all that hard to lose one’s way — and harder still to find a way back. Google thus needs to steer a steady course to maintain its user base.

Merely providing directions online might not be enough, thereby motivating the search giant to incorporate more real-time data for its mobile maps.

“Google Maps are more often the most popular and most accurate between the big options,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan. “However, Google Maps needs to stay current to stay on top. Not only with accuracy, but with innovation.”

Google must fend off rivals, in other words, that could look to take away its dominance.

“Think of the navigation sector as a pie with slices,” Kagan told TechNewsWorld. “Google has a pretty big slice of the pie right now. They want to grow that slice and they want to protect the process they make.

“That’s why they acquired Waze,” he added. “Is Waze attractive to all Google Maps users? No, but they are to a segment.”

Instant Gratification

To many Google Maps users, the newly added feature could provide detailed information on traffic that wasn’t there before.

“In the way that Google search has provided instant gratification for users,” said King, “they are now looking to provide the same thing with map functionality, including with traffic.”

In the bigger picture, “Google has grown too big for any one move to matter to their entire customer base,” Kagan noted. “So they will have to manage many initiatives to satisfy many slices of the pie. That’s what this Waze opportunity is for Google — it’s attractive to one slice of their customer pie.”

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