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Google Inc (GOOG), Facebook Inc (FB): Which Waze Will This Go?

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was getting all the press earlier this month when stories flew about the social network reaching a deal with mapping application Waze for about $1 billion. In the wake of the rollout of Graph Search, Facebook seemed to be making a big play for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) market share not only in search, but now in maps and geo-locations.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)Not so fast apparently. There are now reports circulating that suggest that the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) deal has not gone through and that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is stepping into a bidding war for the application, reportedly offering more than $1 billion.

Anonymous sources are telling Bloomberg that Waze has been looking for a $1 billion purchase price, or it may just find more venture capital and stay independent. The latest reports are that there are other tech companies bidding for Waze at this time, but that no company is a frontrunner to buy the firm.

This is a big piece of negative news for Facebook, which had reportedly reached a deal in principle earlier in the month. But it seems that once the talks became pubic knowledge, other companies have stepped in, and Google would be the likely biggest threat to Facebook’s bid.

Waze has about 40 million active users and it uses a social component as well as GPS tracking to provide mapping services. Users communicate to the app regarding police traffic traps, construction, detours and other commuting features to help the application provide the best real-time directions for drivers. While Waze is based in California, it is a company with roots in Israel, and one of the reported hangups in the original Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) deal was whether Facebook would relocate everyone from the company to California, or let Waze keep its operations in Israel.

Waze had indicated in the past that it would not consider shutting down its Israel operation, but we don’t know the exact reason why the deal hasn’t gone through.

For Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to pull this off would mean that it could add a social component to its already-popular mapping app and could effectively keep Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) or Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) from leveraing Waze’s offerings into a better mapping platform  so they could compete.

What does all this mean?