Google's Waze purchase probed by OFT
UK watchdog to determine whether Google-Waze deal affected competition in the UK
The UK's competition watchdog is to probe Google's acquisition of Israeli mapping startup Waze.
Earlier this summer, Google announced it would buy Waze for $1 billion, after Apple and Facebook were floated as potential buyers. It emerged during the process that Microsoft had also secretly invested in Waze in an early funding round.
According to its brief statement, the OFT is checking whether the deal qualifies for a full investigation and inviting responses. The deal would have to meet several criteria, including Waze's UK turnover exceeding $70 million a year. Only then would the OFT investigate whether the acquisition will affect competition in the UK.
But this first probe could lead to a wider investigation, should the OFT find the deal resulted in a "substantial lessening of competition" in the UK. That could have one of three outcomes; the OFT could refer the investigation to the Competition Commission, ask Google to make concessions to meet competition rules, or it could clear the deal entirely.
Waze uses GPS information from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic updates. Google has already started integrating its technology into Google Maps, adding real-time updates on accidents, traffic jams or road closures on UK roads and abroad.