Apple Confirms BookLamp Buy, Swell App Said to Be Next

Apple is said to have purchased BookLamp and be in the process of buying Swell. The first is the Pandora of talk radio and the other the Pandora of books.

Apple buys BookLamp and Swell

Apple, a company that likes to keep quiet about its acquisitions, has recently been tied to two deals.

Apple has negotiated a deal to buy Swell, a Pandora-like app for talk-radio listeners, for $30 million, Re/Code reported July 27.

Much of the Swell team, including CEO Ram Ramkumar, will join the Apple team, said the report, which added that Ramkumar and others previously sold their image-recognition startup, SnapTell, to Amazon.

The iOS app lets users customize their listening, offering streaming audio from sources such as NPR, TED, ESPN, BBC and iTunes. While it's an easy companion any time, its big buttons and clean interface make it a particular fit for the car—a space that Apple made clear it tends to inhabit with its March introduction of the CarPlay in-car user interface.

CarPlay is in the most recent vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, and will soon also be integrated into the native interfaces of vehicles from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan, Toyota and other automakers. CarPlay can also be integrated into older vehicles.

The well-liked Swell, which has an Apple App Store rating of 4.5 stars, will also offer Apple an alternative to its lesser-loved Podcast app, which has a rating of 1.5-stars.

As part of the deal, said the Re/Code report, the Swell app will be shut down any day now.

Apple also recently purchased streaming service Beats Music and hardware maker Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The record-high spending price for Apple also came with the expertise of Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

In a July 28 press release, the European Commission approved Apple's acquisition of Beats, saying the combination of the businesses doesn't hurt competition because "the combined market share of Apple and Beats Electronics is low." More realistic competitors to Apple, it added, are Spotify and Deezer.

Apple Buys Booklamp

The other Pandora-like app that gained Apple's attention is BookLamp, a platform that offers reading suggestions.

Apple confirmed to TechCrunch July 25 that it had purchased the Boise, Idaho, startup.

Since April, the BookLamp site has consisted of only a thank-you to past supporters, for their "active involvement and participation over the past several years," as well as for "being a part of the journey to date."

The site added that the company's Book Genome Project is no longer available, as BookLamp "evolves its mission."

BookLamp founder Aaron Stanton Tweeted for the last time 269 days ago, telling the Twitterverse, "BookLamp is hiring! If you know any skilled systems admins that would find the Book Genome Project interesting, point them our way."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.