Apple Buying Google-Backed Podcast App, Swell, For $30 Million

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Swell, Apple's latest acquisition, cost the iPhone-maker $30 million. Google Ventures was an early investor in the podcast recommendation company.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) purchased podcast app Swell for $30 million, Re/code reports.

Apple is interested in the talk radio app for its staff and Pandora-like personalization technology, as opposed to its middling user base, the report Sunday said. Swell had raised $7.2 million from several investors, including Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) venture capital division.

Swell created a customized stream of podcasts based on a user’s tastes, and featured a simple user interface that worked well in the car, which means Apple could combine its tech and staff for a number of projects, including its in-car infotainment endeavor, CarPlay; its streaming service, iTunes Radio, and recently acquired subscription offering Beats Music.

Swell’s iPhone app did not appear to be popular with iPhone users -- it had an average rating of 1.5 out of 5 stars in the App Store. It will be shut down, the report said, as will a version for Google’s Android devices that was still in the works. The app’s algorithm, Swell says, streams talk radio nuggets based on an “advanced algorithm.”

The algorithm is a rating system that incorporates five factors: human curators, a rating based on how long users listen, how well content matches with a user’s interests, a community rating as well as one that incorporates data from users with similar tastes.

The Swell purchase comes as Apple makes a number of smaller moves, including a BookLamp, a book recommendation service, in April for upwards of $15 million. Apple announced in May that it planned to buy Beats Electronics for $3 billion, its largest acquisition ever.

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