Google Waze grab gets FTC interest: Investigation tipped

Google's acquisition of Waze, the social-powered mapping app, has prompted US Federal Trade Commission interest in the deal and the possibility of a full investigation, it's been revealed. The search giant confirmed that it had been contacted by the FTC to Bloomberg, after rumors over the past few days that the reportedly $1.1bn purchase of the Israeli company could prompt more regulatory headaches than Google expected.

On Saturday, the NYPost reported insider whispers that, despite Google's beliefs that prior FTC approval wasn't necessary, the Commission itself might not feel the same way. According to sources, Google believed it was not required to gain FTC review approval in advance of the deal closing because of Waze's annual revenue, which is less than $70m.

However, the insiders claimed, the FTC is seeing things differently, and regulators from the organization will investigate the purchase for potential negative impact on the marketplace. Since the deal has already closed, Google could even be forced to sell Waze off should the FTC deem it an inappropriate acquisition.

Waze has been the target of several purchase attempts over the past months, if the rumor mill is to be believed. Apple and Facebook have both been connected with potential deals, along with Microsoft, each keen to integrate the service's crowdsourced mapping data into their own products.

The startup uses its mobile apps to not only deliver navigation and point-of-interest data to users, but to collect it. Traffic and roadwork information is gathered, along with amendments to the maps submitted by users themselves, and then pushed out in real-time.

Meanwhile, a social aspect flags up other nearby Waze users, complete with calendar-synchronized ETAs so that friends en-route to the same event can time their arrival to coincide. The app also supports gas price logging, and can suggest which nearby location is the cheapest to fill up.

Google has said it intends to keep the Waze team separate, though that it will integrate elements of the company's data – such as traffic information – into its own products, most notably Google Maps. Meanwhile, Waze will begin to use Google's search system.

Google confirmed the FTC interest in the deal, but declined to comment on a potential investigation.