Double-Sided Business Model
I commend startups like waze. Currently the map data world is more or less a duopoly. NavTeq is owned by Nokia, and Tele Atlas by TomTom. While larger players like Apple and Google are getting into the mix, I would commend startups like Waze that are playing with the big dogs.
Because once the data is controlled by a large player, they will exert their influence and market power to license out the map data to terms of their choosing. Waze chose to build on TIGER map data because it is looking to license out accurate and real-time map routes and data. Why WAZE is important? because they keep the other big players honest. Everybody else has a slew of other products on the market. Google and Apple want to provide map data and services for their users. Google, with an advertising led business model will most likely want to use the map data to sell location based ads through its Android phones. Apple the same with iOS and iPhones.
While Waze could've gone completely open-source without generous donations to keep the lights on, I doubt that the map data would be as accurate. They've spent the past couple years taking public map data-TIGER-to make it current.
We get a free app with current routing data that takes into consideration the traffic out there. I'm willing to "update" the maps and provide real-time data to them.
Through a partnership with users, Waze gets fresh map and traffic data and hopes to turn around to companies to sell the data (users on one side, licensees on the other). Basically Waze is employing a horizontal strategy to become a baseline for all independent map data.