Waze Craze

January 13th, 2017

Waze is pretty awesome, and apparently they’ve impressed the folks at Fortune magazine since they are one of Fortune’s top 10 breakthrough brands* as featured in their January 1, 2017 issue.

For those not yet au courant, Waze is a mobile app that shows what’s happening on the road you’re traveling. It indicates where traffic and other road challenges await the unsuspecting traveler. Waze even spots traffic patrol cars on the roadside … wink, wink.

As the website describes them:
“Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.”

In a recent trek from Connecticut to Nebraska, Waze proved invaluable in helping my husband and me navigate congested thoroughfares, especially in the larger metropolitan areas. And don’t even get me started on the road construction and accompanying delays that confronted us. But as helpful as I found Waze to be, I couldn’t help but notice that there are some inherent problems that could prove to be insurmountable.

While driving along the highway, my husband and I would occasionally spot a problem on the road. Quick to jump in and alert the other Waze users, it became immediately apparent that actively using Waze is not unlike texting in many ways. The National Safety Council has made it abundantly clear just how deadly that can be. Even just removing a police sighting takes two or three steps to complete, which is only fine when there’s a passenger in your vehicle to complete the task.

Another issue that cropped up several times was the fact that Waze relies on the traveling community for its information. That’s very cool, we get to make a difference. But sometimes the community is wrong, and sometimes they’re not quick to make a necessary change, so reliability was a bit sketchy. On more than one occasion, we rounded a bend expecting to be faced with old Smokey – and he was nowhere in sight.

And, of course, being the upstanding citizen I believe myself to be, there can be little doubt that Waze is not terribly popular with traffic patrol. That said, I can see why Fortune names Waze as a breakthrough brand. It is gaining momentum through word of mouth with extreme rapidity.

It struck me as somewhat amusing that my introduction to Waze was through a 70-year-old gentleman I met at a champagne tasting last year. He was complaining that the traffic made him late. As I commiserated, he whipped out his phone and assured me he’d have been much later had it not been for Waze. That’s not how I typically learn about new apps.

And, at this point, if you believe Waze is going nowhere but up and you believe my observations to be unfounded – check out their rate card, because their awareness growth rate is substantial.

*Fortune defines a breakthrough brand as brands that have “attained the kind of consumer mindshare that companies used to have to work decades to create.”