The report suggests that according to "multiple sources" Apple will take control of the start-up very soon. Swell is currently funded in part by Google Ventures. For those unfamiliar, Swell is an iOS app which compiles podcasts and other shows into a personalised talk-radio stream.
The app is not currently available in the UK, but it is certainly intriguing to see Apple acquiring the software. The global reach of Apple would create definite traction for the app to expand its availability to the UK and further afield. There is also the possibility that Apple is taking over the whole operation to use the Swell team as a reinforcement to produce their own improved native radio app.
It's a neat idea, but one that's failed to gain traction: despite high engagement among proponents, points out Re/Code, it's absolute user count has failed to grow at a suitably respectable rate. The site claims that as part of the deal, the Swell app will be shut down this week and many of its staff will now work at Apple.
While Apple already has a Podcast app, it's worth pointing out that it sucks. Hard. (It get an average customer review of 1.5 stars.) Perhaps then — and this is a very speculative perhaps — Swell is to talk-radio as Beats is to music for Apple: a shot in the media arm, to elevate its standing in a sector where it's currently not leading the pack.
We'll maybe never know for sure, but you can perhaps expect to see Apple treat factual audio content a little differently from now on. [Re/Code]