A screenshot of Navit posted on http://wiki.navit-project.org/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to Xconomy, Waze, the Israel-based social navigation and traffic service, announced that it now has over 20 million users. That’s quite a milestone for any startup, but what makes this number so impressive is that the company also announced that it added half of its users in the last six month and continues to grow quickly. Just in the last month, the company said, it added 1.8 million new users to its community. All of these users, said Waze, have used the app to drive over 3.2 billion miles so far. Waze has received funding from a number of prominent Silicon Valley funds (including Kleiner Perkins) and Horizons Ventures Hong Kong. In total, Waze has raised about $67 million since its launch in 2008. The company is clearly on a roll right now and given that it depends on its users to collect traffic data, having more users is obviously a boon for anybody who uses the service (though, as usual, Waze is happy to report the download numbers, but that obviously doesn’t mean it actually has 20 million active users). Just two weeks ago, Waze announced a number of new features, including the ability to see real-time fuel prices in the company’s mobile apps. Earlier this year, Waze also added a hands-free feature to its iPhone app that allows users to just wave their hand in front of their iPhones to start Waze’s voice-recognition mode to report traffic conditions while driving. The company, unlike most of its competitors, also makes the source code of its apps available to anybody who would like to take a look and modify it. Still, with the arrival of built-in turn-by-turn directions in iOS6 (and with Google already offering this feature on Android), it’s hard to predict the future of Waze. The company apparently provides some data to Apple and chances are Apple is paying a fee for this data, but it remains to be seen how quickly the company can continue to grow after Apple releases iOS 6 with its built-in turn-by-turn navigation.
The need for real-time traffic data will continue to grow as congestion gets worse worldwide, but who will be the winner? In the consumer space, Waze has a chance, but needs to be more than a one-trick pony.