How can Apple truly leverage Waze?

Rumors broke today that Apple is rumored to be acquiring Waze. The latest rumors have Apple's offer at $500 Million ($400 Million cash and $100 Million incentives), with Waze rumored holding out for $750 Million.

Of course, these aren't the first rumors of Waze acquisition talks.  Last August it was Facebook that was the rumored suitor, which did come to fruition as increased integration of Facebook into Waze's app.  The consensus is that Apple needs Waze to beef up its Apple Maps product, and by acquiring Waze Apple will strengthen its position vis-a-vis Google. But it's all still rumors.

We've already compared Waze to Google Maps, and Waze definitely has advantages, especially its crowd-sourced traffic data.  If Apple can improve the usability a bit, the results should be amazing.

But the question still remains: How would Apple benefit from owning Waze?  Is there more to it than a strong product on iPhone that it could deny to Android and Windows Phone devices?

Grizzly Analytics believes that Apple has a lot more in the works than just an exclusive maps application.

One possibility is integrating Waze navigation, particularly their ability to estimate driving time more accurately than other navigation services, into an "integrated calendar and map application" that Apple has been researching since 2008.  The idea sounds great: If I have a calendar item across town later today, the calendar app can use driving time estimates from a navigation app to give me a reminder when I need to get on the road, to avoid being late because of traffic. This feature would benefit hugely from accurate traffic data like Waze has.

Integrating navigation into iPhone calendars would join location-based reminders in adding location-orientation to iPhone calendars and to-do lists. They're not revolutionary, but they can change how people use smartphone calendars.

Apple also has other location-based research underway, such as location-based media and finding friends along routes being navigated.

All in all, Waze could give Apple more than just a great mapping app, it can give them a kind of intelligence about driving time and routing that Apple will be able to leverage in a lot of ways.

Will the deal happen? We'll all have to wait and see. But if it does, expect innovative new features from Apple that incorporate driving time and routing into other phone features.  And look forward to iPhone users arriving at meetings on time.

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