Social GPS today. Connected cars tomorrow?
I pride myself on being ‘in the know’ when it comes to technology- especially software, mobile, and social media. I spend my days with some seriously geeky brainiacs at SAP and my nights with my husband, who was reading slashdot long before you ever heard of it. And so the last place on earth I expected to learn about some hot technology was at our family BBQ on Father’s Day. And the last person I would expect to educate moi about a killer mobile app would be my uncle the surgeon.
Said uncle had just arrived in Philadelphia and was bragging to all who would listen that he had made the drive from New York City in record time thanks to his Social GPS app, Waze. He further explained that he leveraged near real-time input from other drivers to decide which route to choose, where there were delays or traffic jams, and even where to get the cheapest gas. The wheels in my head were spinning a zillion miles an hour as I understood how powerful this technology could be, in the right hands of the tech industry of course.
Well, it turns out that my uncle the surgeon and I were not the only ones impressed with the Waze technology and the incredible potential of Social powered GPS. Google acquired the Israeli start-up company just last week for a billion dollars, give or take. Waze CEO Noam Bardin clearly had a shared vision with the Google folks he stated in an interview several months ago “General navigation and maps, are really the ‘search’ for mobile.” Bardin further explained that Waze is working to unlock the puzzle of advertising on mobile phones, as Google had done for the web.
Beyond the infinite number of use cases for the benefit of us drivers, one can surmise that Google purchased Waze for several reasons including the unprecedented user engagement in a mapping system which leverages a gamification style points system to reward contributors. And unlike most map systems (including Google Maps), Waze has real time features including reporting of police presence, road blocks etc. Their revenue-model, primarily driven by in-app advertising is also unique and differentiates them from other GPS companies in the market like TomTom and Garmin who charge users vs advertisers for their service.
So what’s next you ask? Another family gathering is rapidly approaching and I refuse to be scooped on tech news again by my uncle. I’m reading up on the future of Connected Cars and the possibilities of smarter vehicles that can make it easier to find parking, tell me when and how to repair my car, and how to save some gas money.
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