Podcast app

Apple buys Scout FM podcast app amid heightened competition from Spotify

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Apple this year bought Scout FM, a startup that used artificial intelligence to organize and deliver podcasts to users, according to a new report.

Quoting sources close to the case, Bloomberg reports that Apple bought Scout FM earlier this year, although the exact date and value of the transaction has not been disclosed. The company ceased operations following the takeover.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the acquisition.

A popular app on iOS and Android, Scout FM has provided podcasts in a more digestible format. While apps like Apple Podcasts force listeners to select shows, the startup offered themed “channels” with personalized content in a system that resembled terrestrial radio programming.

Like other curated content apps, Scout FM has relied on users’ listening habits, stated preferences and other metrics to create personalized podcast playlists, according to the report. According to a TechCrunch report released in 2018, the service was able to create an organized podcast station based on a few questions asked to determine user preferences.

Scout FM initially targeted smart speaker platforms and started life with experiments performed on Amazon’s Alexa. The product was launched with 30 Alexa skills, including a “Game of Thrones” themed radio station. Apps for iOS and Android followed.

News of Apple’s purchase of Scout FM comes as competitors in the digital content market increase their own podcast offerings. Music streaming leader Spotify, for example, is rapidly expanding its podcast library and has signed exclusive deals with popular broadcasters, including Joe Rogan.

Apple was a major force in establishing podcasting over a decade ago (the term is derived from audio content designed to be consumed on iPod). After leaving the platform to grow organically, the tech giant has recently shown renewed interest in the medium and is constantly updating its Podcasts app with new features.

In June, reports claimed that Apple was working hard to bring Apple Music-style “For You” profiles and bonus content to its proprietary app. It is not known whether the supposed service incorporates Scout FM technology.

Apple has made a number of acquisitions this year, including payment technology startup Mobeewave, enterprise device management company Fleetsmith, AI company Inductiv, and VR streaming company NextVR. More recently, reports in August claimed the iPhone maker had bought Spaces, an AR tech startup spun out of DreamWorks Animation.

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