Apple has confirmed that it has acquired the small online content firm Matcha.tv. The acquisition will see Matcha’s staff work at Apple for at least two years, and reignites the hot rumor that Apple is seriously planning on getting into the TV business sooner rather than later.
Matcha.tv, which went offline in May, was originally a website and a set of mobile apps that recommended TV and movie options based on information gathered about the user from his or her social graph and viewing habits. The service gathered content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and, crucially, iTunes. To a certain extent, this made Matcha.tv platform agnostic, and rather than being dedicated to driving viewers to a particular service, it was aimed at pleasing the TV viewer.
This data suggest that Matcha may be a very important tool for Apple as part of what’s long been rumored to be the company’s reinvention of TV. Before he died, Steve Jobs famously remarked that he’d cracked the problem of TV viewing, which currently centers around the viewer using a typically awful UI to surf through content available on linear broadcast channels. It’s this setup that the cable companies would love to keep. But since Jobs’s statements, there have been many rumors about Apple’s plans to enter the TV market, possibly with a full-fledged TV, and a channel-agnostic interface that serves up content the customer enjoys or may like.
Matcha was bought for an amount said to be up to $1.5 million–piddling small change for Apple, which is sitting on a cash reserve of over $100 billion. But while this purchase was small, it can’t be overlooked, because it may have quite some serious significance for Apple’s future plans.