Google just can’t seem to catch a break. According to a report by the New York Post, the search giant’s $1.1 billion acquisition of Israel-based mapping service Waze has prompted an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A Google spokesperson confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the FTC had contacted the company about the report.
It’s difficult to say for certain what the primary focus of probe will be, but the FTC is more than likely interested in Google’s intentions for purchasing Waze. Some speculate the buy was defensive, an attempt to prevent rivals from acquiring Waze’s technology to build or enhance their own mapping platforms. Microsoft’s an early investor in Waze, and Facebook and Apple reportedly considered purchasing the company as recently as last month.
This isn’t the first time Google’s had a run-in with the FTC. An investigation into the company’s potentially anticompetitive ranking of search results concluded in January 2013, and a probe focusing on Google’s ad platform began in May.
Given that Google’s been charged with more serious allegations and come away unscathed, it’s improbable the FTC’s latest investigation will result in any substantial punishment. Considering Waze’s application features unique functionality like social integration and traffic analysis, it’ll be easy for Google to argue the purchase was a strategic move to improve its own mapping solution, rather than an anticompetitive maneuver to prevent, say, Facebook from entering the mapping game.
What do you think of Google’s purchase of Waze? Do you think the FTC is justified in targeting the company for anticompetitive practices yet again? Let us know.