Apple was the sole big player in podcasts at one point of time. But that was when podcasts were pretty niche, and before Spotify and music streaming became the rage. Apple’s share in the podcast market has taken a bit of hit since then. However, the company seems to be re-looking at that segment now. Apple has reportedly acquired an obscure Bay Area-based podcast startup Pop Up Archive and has already shut it down. Pop Up Archive was founded in 2012, and its search tools could be used to improve podcast search and discovery.
Apple, of course, hasn’t made the acquisition public, and has in a statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” Pop Up Archive went off the radar towards the end of November when it notified users via Twitter to download all their existing content. While the startup remained fairly small in its operations, Apple’s interest in it stemmed from the fact that Pop Up’s tools could benefit search in the iPhone Podcast app and add context to it.
The Oakland-based startup, over the past few years, had developed tools to “transcribe, organize, and search audio files.” It even released its own podcast search engine called Audiosear.ch which shut down late last month. “Audiosear.ch takes podcast discovery and recommendation to the next level. Our API is the most comprehensive source of podcast metadata in the English language, offering full-text podcast search, transcripts, and time-stamped annotations (proper nouns, brands) as well as topic clusters, keywords, mood, and ratings,” as per its old website.
Despite increasing competition from a host of dedicated podcast apps, Apple is believed to be driving 50 to 70 percent of all available podcasts downloads, according to Nieman Lab. It isn’t clear what Apple plans to do with Pop Up Archive’s existing technology, but one could expect interesting new features in the iOS Podcasts app in the time ahead.