What Google’s Acquisition of Waze Says About the App Industry

Google to Acquire WazeWhere you’ve been, where you’re going, how to get there, where your friends are… mobile apps have become a living, breathing stream of location-based data.

Increasingly, a vast range of corporations are pushing to develop, acquire or incorporate location-aware applications. We’ve seen evidence of this in Google’s recent plan to acquire Waze, a crowd-sourced navigation app used by drivers around the world, for $1 billion. As covered by Sam Gustin, in Time, Google is buying Waze for three important reasons:

“Why would Google want to shell out more than $1 billion for a relatively unknown start-up? Three reasons: First, Waze’s collaborative, user-based approach to mapping represents a real breakthrough for mobile-navigation apps. Second, the company poses a threat to Google’s own popular Maps product, so this acquisition is smart defensive play. Third, by buying Waze, Google is able to keep it out of the clutches of archrivals Apple and Facebook, which both have been circling the company in recent months.

As GPS-equipped smartphones have become increasingly ubiquitous, map apps have soared in popularity. For well over a year, Google and Apple have been fighting an increasingly intense battle for user loyalty in the mobile-map space, which explains why both companies have been circling Waze. Because map apps are so widely used, they’ve become a key priority for software companies in the mobile wars.”

Essentially, mobile wars have become location-based data wars. Having the best, most accurate location-based content is the new top priority for the biggest and best brands. Google, as we know, has kept a major portion of their business focused on maps. In fact, Google’s own maps app was dubbed the best of the best after Apple’s shaky launch of it’s bug-ridden map application in 2012.

Google’s acquisition of Waze plus all the talk around these types of apps tells us two things; location-based data is wildly import, but even more so – accuracy is a must.

It’s not enough to have an app with location-based data. The app has work correctly, everywhere and every time. Needless to say, verifying accuracy is getting more difficult as the amount of data increases and the features of the applications become more complex. Take Waze for example; the app’s data is user-generated. So what if the app goes awry for one user in one location? The data that user recorded is then inaccurate, and could seemingly be seen by countless other users.

This is why companies will need to increasingly rely on in-the-wild testing solutions that can ensure the application works in different parts of the world, under different scenarios and on different devices.

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