News of the deal emerged after the London-based company changed its registered address to that of law firm Baker & McKenzie, the same registered address of Apple Europe Ltd. This was first reported by Musically earlier today, after it unearthed documents filed at Companies House in the U.K. earlier in January.
To add further credence to the claims, Semetric also appointed a new director back in October — one Gene Daniel Levoff, who also happens to be Apple’s vice president of corporate law. This appointment only came to light alongside the recent change of address filings in January.
Apple has issued its usual response to questions around companies it buys: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plan.”
If you’ve never heard of Semetric before, it’s perhaps become best known for Musicmetric, a platform that garners data about the popularity of musicians online, scraping everything from Facebook to Twitter and BitTorrent. It basically provides a snapshot of what’s being said online, and gives music companies significant insight into what’s hot and what’s not.
It lets users filter by a range of key criteria, such as style of music or location of a specific live performance, and then they can assess sentiment accordingly. They can also determine whether a band or artist is more popular on Facebook than Twitter, for example, information that promoters and executives can use to tailor and target music more specifically.
In terms of why Apple would wish to acquire Semetric, well, it’s well-known that iTunes sales are starting to suffer, which is why the Cupertino company snapped up Beats Electronics for $3 billion. Apple recognizes that music-streaming is the future, and tied into this is big data. You may remember Spotify acquired The Echo Nest last March so that it could better understand users’ listening habits and improve music discovery.
For Apple to succeed with Beats, which it’s expected to relaunch as a core part of iOS in 2015, it needs to better understand what users are listening to and what they feel about it. While there may well be a user-focused facet to the acquisition, it’s likely Apple will wish to use the platform as part of a value-added service aimed at labels and artists, so they can keep a check on what Apple’s legion of music fans are saying about the music they listen to.
While Musicmetric could prove an invaluable platform for Apple, and the timing of the deal certainly suggests that Beats Music is one of the chief driving forces behind the acquisition, it’s worth noting that the broader Semetric platform tracks billions of data points, covering everything from TV shows and movies to books. It’s perfectly plausible that Apple isn’t merely focusing on music here, given that it also sells ebooks and films through iTunes. So there is clear scope here for Apple to build out an iTunes dashboard for a myriad of content providers.
VentureBeat has reached out to both companies and will update here if or when we hear anything back.
Meanwhile, another London-based company, Shazam, scooped up $30 million in funding today, so 2015 is shaping up to be a fruitful year for U.K.-based startups.