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FTC to cast an eye over Google's Waze buy

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Google's acquisition of Israeli mobile navigation app vendor Waze is going to get an anti-trust examination by the FTC.

Earlier this month, Mountain View's acquisition team flipped open the wallet to the tune of $US1.3 billion for the social map app, its sub-$US70 million revenue, and its claimed fifty million users. When the Chocolate Factory made its buy, Waze was also attracting the interest of Apple and Facebook.

The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Google has confirmed the FTC has been in touch.

Waze used Pac-Man-like icons to attract users to the serious business of ground-truthing maps, checking streets were accurate, that minor ways actually existed, and to report on traffic conditions and suggest rat-runs to let each other get around congestion. Its business model was to get users and get bought.

When it made the acquisition, Google said it would run Waze as a distinct operation, keeping its Israeli development operation, but incorporate Waze information into its own maps.

Consumer Watchdog had criticised the acquisition in this June 12 letter to the FTC. In particular, it said the acquisition would remove a potential competitor to Google.

Without any longer-term business model other than acquisition, the idea that Waze would be a genuine competitor to Google Maps seems somewhat optimistic to El Reg. It seems more likely that the FTC will look at whether the acquisition was designed to keep the upstart out of the hands of Google's competitors. ®

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