Tech giant Google is close to finalizing a deal to purchase Waze, an Israeli-based startup.
Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg says that the startup will be purchased for $1.3 billion, a report coinciding with a similar article by financial newspaper Globes. The publication says that a deal could be reached and announced as early as this week, putting an end to months of negotiation.
If a deal with Google goes ahead, it could be one of the Internet giant's most expensive acquisitions to date. Some of the most expensive purchases include Motorola Mobility in 2011 for $12.5 billion, online advertising firm DoubleClick in 2007 for $3.2 billion, and YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.
Apple and Facebook are also interested in buying the five year-old startup, according to people familiar with the matter.
Microsoft is an investor within the company.
Waze uses crowdsourced information to update traffic and navigation services in real-time through Android and iOS applications. The firm's website says it helps roughly 45 million users "outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day."
The free application is ad-supported, used in 190 countries and draws on GPS information to improve maps. In addition, a dedicated forum of drivers contribute to the project by refining routes and adding warnings for traffic accidents and speed cameras.
Mapping technology is important for companies that are trying to secure and retain mobile device users. Google Maps is one of the most popular services currently in use, but continual research and development is required to stay ahead of rival companies.
It would be advantageous to Google, Facebook or Apple to own a firm rather than simply license the technology, as it will allow the tech giants to refine services to make them personalized for users. Furthermore, as GPS and mapping technology becomes more sophisticated, expanding these services can also attract more developers who want to use location-based technology in their applications -- showing users where they are on a map, where local attractions or facilities are, or even how close friends are.
In recent months, Google has focused on personalizing the Google Maps experience by adding local business ratings and friend visits based on search histories. It is possible that adding Waze could contribute much to this cause by offering Google a ready-made network of friends to be integrated within the tech giant's map service if they are already using the application.