Apple to acquire Swell talk radio and podcast app for $30 million

Apple appears to be looking to further improve the iTunes Radio service through the $30 million acquisition of a radio application called Swell, Re/code reported early Monday morning. Unlike the $3 billion Beats Electronics (and Beats Music) buyout, however, this purchase centers more on talk radio than music.

Swell currently carries news from sources such as NPR, ABC, ESPN, the BBC, and more, and uses a user’s listening history to create personalized content playlists. Apple, on the other hand, only recently jumped into the streaming news market through iTunes Radio with ESPN and NPR stations, including over 40 local stations.

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Apple acquired BookLamp startup for $10-15 million earlier this year (Update: confirmed)

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Apple acquired a company called BookLamp earlier this year for somewhere between $10-15 million, according to information uncovered by TechCrunch.

The Idaho-based startup created what was referred to as “Pandora for books,” including a system known as the Book Genome Project that could recommend books based on analysis of the text and previous ratings of other books by users (very similar to Pandora’s Music Genome Project, which does the same thing for musical analysis).

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Apple acquires mapping-based social recommendation service Spotsetter

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Just a little more than a week after acquiring Beats, Apple has now reportedly acquired Spotsetter. According to a report out of TechCrunch, Apple quietly snatched up the company mainly for the technology and two founders behind the service. Spotsetter was founded in 2012 by ex-Google Maps engineer Stephen Tse and Jonny Lee. Both Lee and Tse’s LinkedIn profiles now say they’re employed by Apple, as well.

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Is Beats CCO Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails going to be an Apple employee?

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Update: A spokesperson for Beats Music confirmed to us that “Trent Reznor is still with Beats Music.”

Jimmy Iovine has long credited Nine Inch Nails frontman and Beats Music Chief Creative Officer Trent Reznor as a driving force behind the success of the service. Reznor, however, is now rumored to have left the company as it finalizes its $3B sell to Apple. The news comes from a line in a USA Today report over the weekend that curiously doesn’t mention a source of the information:

(Curiously, Beats’ chief creative officer, Trent Reznor, the singer-songwriter and producer of Nine Inch Nails fame responsible for Beats’ tastemaking, has reportedly left the company. Also, one of Beats’ principal technology executives, Fredric Vinna, has recently gone to Spotify, and its co-founder, Ola Sars, to a Spotify-backed venture.)

Beats Music didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, but Billboard reports that a spokesperson for Beats and for Reznor claim the report is inaccurate: Read more

Beats acquisition could be delayed for a variety for reasons, including Dre’s early ‘announcement’ video

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While it was previously reported that the Apple buyout of Beats Electronics was supposed to be announced this week, Billboard has compiled a list of five different reasons the deal isn’t yet finalized according to its own sources.

A few of these potential hold-ups include issues determining Beats’ valuation and issues with finding a place for Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to fit into Apple’s corporate structure. According to one of Billboard’s sources, Apple’s executives were “freaked out” by the video that surfaced a few weeks ago of Dr. Dre and Tyrese Gibson (accidentally) confirmed that a deal was in the works.

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Apple acquires beta testing platform TestFlight through Burstly purchase

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Apple has acquired Burstly, the company behind the popular beta testing platform Test Flight, TechCrunch reported (now confirmed by Recode). TestFlight recently pulled its SDK as well as Android support  prompting speculation that big changes were on the horizon. Some speculated that an Apple acquisition could behind it all and would make sense considering the fragmented beta testing experience for app developers. While neither company has commented publicly confirming the acquisition, we were pointed to hints of the acquisition just before TechCrunch reported the rumor as likely and later updated its reporting to note that the acquisition had already occurred… Read more