Apple buys podcast search startup Pop Up Archive

Apple’s played a central role in podcast since its earliest days — heck, even the term was borrowed from its big hardware product at the time. But the company’s marketshare appears to have eroded somewhat as players like Google and Spotify have entered the market, reportedly down from 70-percent of podcast downloads in 2015 to 55-percent in 2017.

That’s still not a bad place to be, but the more podcasts become legitimized through big name shows like Serial, the more the company will have to bat back the competition. In light of all this, Apple may well be planting its flag in the sand. This morning, the Hot Pod newsletter reported that the company had picked up a small Bay Area-based startup called Pop Up Archive in what appears to the be an effort to build up its in-house podcasting tools.

The company offered TechCrunch a followup, noting, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

As for what those plans are, keeping Pop Up Archive operating as is doesn’t appear to be on the list. The startup abruptly closed up shop late last month, a day after posting message on Twitter asking users to download all of their content before then.

You’ve likely not heard of the company, unless this is a world you follow closely. Pop Up Archive was founded back in  2012 and has remained pretty small since then. We first caught wind of it back in 2014, when it appeared at the 500 Startups Demo Day. At the time, the company was demonstrating a tool that tags audio usually transcribed textual data. A user uploads a podcast and it offers tags.

Sounds like a small thing, sure, but it’s a potentially important one when you’re dealing with long audio files. iTunes and the iPhone Podcast app could greatly benefit from additional contextual search. It would go a long way toward finding and recommending content via the service. At the moment, Apple’s recommendations are limited to similar shows. Pop Archive also maintained Audiosearch, a podcast search engine that also closed up shop on November 28.