Apple Acquires Two Startups Over the Weekend

Apple had a busy weekend with the acquisition of two streaming media startups. This past Friday, Apple acquired BookLamp for somewhere between $10 million and $15 million. BookLamp's most well-known product was the Book Genome Project, widely considered the Pandora for books. The startup makes recommendations on books to read using natural language analysis of text.

"BookLamp’s public-facing product was designed to scan the writing style of books you like and suggest novels or authors with a similar feel. It could also break down plot themes and content, allowing for better search-ability and discovery."

Using BookLamp's technology and talent, Apple hopes to drive sales to its iBooks services with better recommendations, search, and categorizations. Most importantly, the acquisition will help iBooks to compete with Amazon. Ironically, BookLamp had been in talks with Amazon earlier, but Amazon instead pursued acquisition of GoodReads, another book recommendation competitor.

Apple's second acquired startup, San Francisco-based Swell, has made a name for itself already. Starting with $5.4 million invested from funding, Swell already has $7.2 million in total funding for the company, after it launched its iOS app less than a month ago. The deal is worth about $30 million. Very similar to its first acquisition of the week BookLamp, Swell is a Pandora for talk radio

The company combines curation from its own team with an automated personalized system to provide users with various streams of news shows, radio segments, and podcasts. Swells technology is optimized for in-car use, making the UI easy to use and less distracting for drivers. Swell could be used to make up for the lack of success for Apple's Podcasts app, scoring only 1.5 stars out of 5 stars in the Apple store.

What will Apple's next acquisition be? Do these acquisitions mean they are changing their media strategy to focusing on streaming media? With digital sales down by 13.3% and many streaming media, Apple needs to find a way to compete. Acquiring these startups may be the first we see of this new strategy.


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