Apple is reportedly acquiring radio app Swell for $30 million


Apple is gearing up to spend roughly $30 million in its latest effort to expand its streaming radio options. According to Re/Code, the company is “close to buying” a firm called Swell, which provides quick access and a unique way to discover fresh news radio content. Apple has been bolstering its iTunes Radio application with talk radio options for the past several months, most recently adding a live stream to NPR. The acquisition could be a part of Apple’s bigger plans, first revealed by The Information in May, to provide local radio content inside iTunes radio, in addition to locally targeted ads.

Apple is close to buying the Pandora-for-talk-radio app Swell, according to multiple sources. The deal is worth about $30 million, these sources say. Swell had raised $7.2 million from investors including DFJ, Google Ventures and InterWest Partners. Its iOS app compiled various podcasts and shows and stitched them into personalized streams. The Swell acquisition comes as part of a string of content apps that Apple has picked up over the last couple of months, including Beats, which had a significant $3 billion price tag; and book recommendation service BookLamp, which was another small-ish buy. It seems like a pretty clear-cut story: Despite Swell’s simple UI that lended itself to in-car listening, as well as high engagement among fans, the app had trouble finding a lot of users. As part of the deal, the Swell app is to be shut down this week. Apple does have its own in-house podcast app, but it is not well-loved, with users rating it 1.5 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store. Swell had been beta-testing an Android app, but never released it to the public. Much of the Swell team is to join Apple. CEO Ram Ramkumar and other members of the Swell team previously sold their image-recognition startup SnapTell to Amazon.

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