Apple Slurps Up Matcha for TV Search Tech
Though it closed its doors in May, Matcha.tv's iPhone app offered a comprehensive, cross-platform guide to TV content, including cable TV providers, streaming video services and digital video stores. Could its technology be destined for Apple TV? "Clearly it's tied into Apple TV, plus there's the IP there," suggested Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Research.
Apple has reportedly acquired Matcha.tv, a startup that closed its doors in May following its creation of an iOS app that offered a comprehensive overview of the content available on TV.
News of the acquisition was first published in a Tuesday report on VentureBeat, which cited "a source with knowledge of the deal."
Terms of the purchase have not been confirmed, but VentureBeat reported a selling price between US$1 million and $1.5 million.
Neither Apple nor Matcha.tv responded to our request to comment for this story.
An Interactive TV Guide
Matcha.tv's app organized TV content across multiple platforms, giving users a single place to see everything that is available to watch, from cable TV providers such as Verizon or Time Warner to streaming video and over-the-top services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, even including digital video stores such as Apple's own iTunes and rival Amazon.
The "second screen" app, as such companion technologies are known, provided users with a way to manage what was watched from a universal queue, get video recommendations based on their viewing habits and even connect via social networks to see what friends and family might be watching.
The technology was similar to technology that Boxee launched as a way to provide a unified interface for all video content.
Matcha.tv was thus very much like an interactive TV guide for the iPhone and would seem to be a good fit for Apple TV.
'This Fills a Hole'
"Matcha.tv has IP that allows TV users to seamlessly aggregate and use programming guides from video services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told MacNewsWorld. "That would seem to substantiate stories of Apple pursuing licensing/usage deals with multiple/various content providers -- not hugely surprising given the shape of the entertainment industry, but still interesting."
Following Matcha.tv's abrupt closure three months ago, CEO Guy Pietarz reportedly said that the service wasn't gone for good, but rather that the company was working on something different.
"Clearly it's tied into Apple TV, plus there's the IP there," Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Research, told MacNewsWorld.
Indeed, "they had developed an online guide from various sources, which gave users a search and discovery tool, so it is clear why Apple might have been interested," said Greg Ireland, research manager for multiscreen video at IDC.
A more robust Apple TV device incorporating Matcha.tv's technology "could be a good value-add for users," Ireland told MacNewsWorld. "We could see that brings something to the table that Apple doesn't have already. This very much fills a hole."
Matcha.tv's purchase price, meanwhile, could be seen as something of a bargain.
"The rumored purchase price for Matcha -- starting somewhere around $1 million to $1.5 million and possibly higher -- is chump change to Apple," King suggested.
That, in turn, could suggest that "it decided simply buying the company was cheaper and quicker than what building its own equivalent technology would require," King added.
Alternatively, it's also possible that Apple bought the technology simply to keep a rivals -- potentially Google or even Boxee -- from buying it first for use in one of their respective set-top boxes.
"Apple is known for known for buying small companies and not always using the technology," Dan Cryan, director of digital media at IHS iSuppli, told MacNewsWorld. "Matcha could very well turn out to be one of those cases."