Apple's very busy year continues with what inside sources are claiming is the any-minute-now acquisition of Swell, a mobile app that gives the Pandora treatment to talk radio broadcasting.
Industry scuttlebutt has it that Apple is about to lay out over $30 million to swallow Swell, an app that is already available through Apple's App Store. There's probably more than a modicum of truth to these rumors, as it is already known that Swell will be shutting down their app this week. Most of Swell's employees will be assimilated into the Cupertino Borg.
Apple has delved into its bottomless pit of cash on hand (roughly $165 billion) to make a string of acquisitions in the past year, highlighted by the $3 billion pickup of Beats. The presumptive acquisition of Swell continues that entertainment-slanted focus. In a similar vein, Apple also recently acquired BookLamp, a company that concocts suggested book reading lists for users. Not surprisingly, it is considered to be the Pandora for books.
Swell facilitates the streaming of news and talk to any iOS mobile device (Android version still in vaporware mode) and through in-car streaming. As Pandora does for music, Swell offers the same ability to zero in on news and information that caters to the listener's preferences and builds a listener profile accordingly. Swell's algorithms "learn" the user's taste in talk, and delivers individually tailored content. The listener can also manually build a playlist.
"Swell provides fast, easy access to quality streaming content with zero effort. Our algorithms effortlessly connect listeners to content given their preferences and the wisdom of the community. In the U.S. alone, commuters spend over 500 million hours per week getting to and from work. People often feel disconnected or bored when driving, exercising, or in the kitchen, and terrestrial radio doesn't give people any choice or control over time and place. Swell solves this problem. We respect the time people choose to spend with us," said Ram Ramkumar, co-founder and CEO of Swell.
Swell, despite offering first rate content from the likes of NPR, ABC, BBC, ESPN, CBC and the rest of the alphabet. If somebody somewhere is speaking into a microphone, there's a good chance Swell has it.
Swell has had trouble building a customer base; Apple obviously believes that it can fix that. The company may also have plans to dovetail Swell with its own Podcast app, which has also struggled to earn user satisfaction.
If you're keeping score at home, Apple now owns the Pandora for books, and is about to own the Pandora for talk radio. Could ownership of the Pandora for Pandora be far behind?