I'm a long-time fan of Waze, and wrote recently why I prefer their navigation with crowd-sourced traffic data over even the latest Google Maps.
Now the rumors are breaking in Israel that Facebook and Waze are in discussions, either about a deal or about an acquisition.
At first blush, an alliance of this sort would make sense for a few reasons:
1. Waze has been moving in the direction of incorporating local business locations into their mapping and navigation app. If this was extended to mobile local search, it would fit great into Facebook's agenda.
2. If navigation were linked to Facebook, we'd see a lot more people posting status updates about where they're driving, and Facebook would get a lot more information about where their users were.
3. It's only a matter of time until a bigger navigation company comes out with crowd-sourced traffic data - certainly we've reported signs that Google and others have active research in the area. Despite the Waze CEO's recent comment that they're not looking for an acquisition, it does seem that now would be a good time.
ADDED 2 HOURS LATER:
After some more thought, acquiring Waze would fit several mobile agendas that we've previously speculated that Facebook is working on. In this report, written in June, we analyzed the following new mobile directions that evidence shows Facebook is pursuing:
Location sharing and friend finding: 'Nuff said - it's clear that acquiring a top-notch mapping and navigation system would enable Facebook to leapfrog into the friend-finding and location-sharing areas. Waze already does this in a rudimentary way, all it would take was integration into Facebook's friends lists and existing location databases.
Social local search: Facebook has a leg up on local search in that they can leverage opinions of each user's friends. Waze would give them the serious location app and infrastructure on which to deploy it. And Waze already shows some stores and other businesses on their maps.
Location-based advertising and promotions: Knowing more user locations would be a huge advantage in Facebook's attempts to monetize mobile users. And many users use their mapping and navigation system for more time than they use Facebook. Again, the synergy is clear.
For more details on Facebook's work in these areas, see this report. Again, Facebook's work in these areas is documented. Whether (or how) they're bringing them to market is an open question.
As long-time users of both Waze and Facebook, this rumor is fun to think about.....