The Consumer Watchdog group is pressuring U.S antitrust agencies to block Google’s buyout of Waze, a crowd-sourced mapping startup, arguing that the deal will remove Google’s biggest competitor in mobile mapping.
Is it really possible that a small Israeli company is Google’s biggest mapping competition? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Apple and Microsoft’s mapping efforts have both produced mixed results at best, and at AllThingsD‘s D11 conference last month, Waze CEO Noam Bardin noted that his company may be the only one left that stands a chance against the search engine goliath.
What search is for the Web, maps are for mobile,” he said. “We feel that we’re the only reasonable competition to [Google] in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers—for the new world that we’re moving into.”
Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the U.S Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission notes that the acquisition of Waze will give Google Maps, which already has a huge lead against other competitors, an unfair and possibly insurmountable advantage over the other options. The group also calls into question Google’s ethics in general, accusing the company of using its search engine to bury other mapping services like Mapquest in order to boost Google Maps use.
“Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps…” wrote Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project director John Simpson. “Approval of the Waze deal can only allow Google to remove any meaningful competition from the market. It will hurt consumers and hinder technological innovation.”