Back in January, there was speculation that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was considering an acquisition of Waze, the small crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service that's quickly garnered 30 million users.
At the time, the idea made sense since Apple's mapping service had fallen flat and Waze fit the bill of what Apple typically looks for when it swallows start-ups. It's also worth mentioning that Waze is already one of Apple's mapping data partners. Apple was reportedly offering a total of $500 million, but Waze was asking $750 million. The rumors turned out bogus, though it's quite possible that there were some low-level talks that simply never led to anything.
With the Apple and Waze rumor now but a distant memory, investors are turning their speculative attention to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The social network is reportedly willing to drop $800 million to $1 billion to pick up the company, and Facebook is currently doing its due diligence. There are a few reasons why this could make sense for Facebook.
First off, Waze is a social service that relies on users within its community to report and provide data. That social element plays right into Facebook's strengths, and the service would be improved exponentially given Facebook's relatively monstrous user base (1.1 billion Facebook users versus 30 million Waze users). Mapping is also another obvious area where Facebook can put heat on Google as the current top dog. Facebook appears intent to step on Big G's toes wherever possible, and even though Apple's attempts didn't pan out, perhaps Facebook can take a shot.
Facebook also has no mapping specialties. Mapping is particularly important in mobile and Facebook's all about mobile these days. Facebook is clearly interested in local commerce, and an in-house mapping service would do wonders for those ambitions. The social networker has also reportedly hired Richard Williamson, who was the manager of Apple Maps before the Mac maker fired him last year.
Considering the $715 million acquisition of Instagram, a start-up that was boasting exactly $0 in revenue when it was acquired, Facebook clearly has no qualms with paying up when it feels that the technology (or 100 million users) is worth it. Fortunately, Waze has yet to be adopted en masse by hipsters. The $715 million figure is lower than the initially reported $1 billion price because it was a cash and stock deal, and Facebook shares declined between the deal's announcement (right before the IPO) and closing (September 2012).
With these considerations in mind, Facebook and Waze could be a match made in heaven.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Facebook, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.