The Israeli social-media navigation app Waze won the prestigious prize for Best Overall Mobile App on Tuesday at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
On its Facebook page, Waze thanked its loyal followers: "This is a huge win for our community — thanks Wazers, for making us number 1!"
Waze earned massive advertising when Tim Cook, Steve Jobs' successor at Apple, mentioned Waze as a possible replacement for Apple's failed mapping application for the iPhone 5. Apple's surprising move led to a significant increase in the number of Waze downloads.
By the end of 2012, some 36 million drivers worldwide were using Waze to navigate, covering a total of 9.66 billion kilometers (6 billion miles). Drivers who had downloaded the application shared 90 million reports on highway issues, police presence, speed cameras, congestion, accidents, pictures and map updates.
Investment experts estimate Waze to be valued at $1 billion. Two months ago, it was reported that Apple had offered Waze $400 million to acquire it, but that turned out to be a false rumor. To date, $67 million has been invested in Waze by Israeli investors Vertex Venture Capital and Magma Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers of Silicon Valley and, joining just a year ago, Li Ka-shing's Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures.
Waze offers the added advantage of social mapping, so that traffic congestion can be reported in real time by users on the roads. This allows other users to learn about traffic jams, road blocks and accidents, and shift their routes according to the guidance provided by other Waze users.
Meanwhile, at the congress, Samsung's Galaxy S3 received the prize for Best Smartphone, Google and Asus received the award for Best Mobile Tablet for their Nexus 7. The Nokia Asha 305, with a double SIM card and an especially low price, received the award for Best Feature phone or entry level phone. Best Mobile App for Enterprise went to Evernote, and the Best Mobile App for Consumers went to Facebook.