Could Apple Podcasts one day go the same way as Apple TV Plus? Bloomberg reports that the company has been quietly approaching media companies, discussing buying exclusive rights to podcasts – something Apple has never done before.
To what end is less clear, as there are a number of ways this could play out. At its most simple, things could continue in much the same way they are now, only with some exclusive Apple podcasts. This would obviously just cost Apple money with no obvious extra income, but with around 50 to 70% of the world using Apple’s own podcast app, it could just be one more way of keeping people on iPhone when tempting Android contracts come up at phone upgrade time.
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Alternatively, it could be the first step in Apple turning the podcasting landscape on its head. The Podcasts platform came onto iTunes in 2005, and has barely changed in the intervening 14 years, only recently getting its own dedicated Mac app. Apple doesn’t run its own ads, or charge podcasters for hosting on the platform. But if the company is actually spending money on exclusive content, does that mean it could eye a subscription service, as it’s doing with gaming, news and TV?
Obviously, it’s too early to tell, but in funding original content there’s also a certain element of keeping up with the Joneses. Spotify, for example, has been investing heavily in podcasts, buying Gimlet Media and Parcast, and getting the Obamas’ podcasts as an exclusive too. Amazon’s audiobook company Audible also has its share of timed exclusive podcasts, which are free to subscribers, too – such as Jon Ronson’s ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and ‘Last Days of August’.
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Whatever Apple’s intention, investors certainly see these early reports as a sign of things to come. According to Bloomberg, Spotify stock dropped 2.7% as the news broke that Apple might finally be looking to take advantage of its podcasting market dominance. Watch this space.
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