Ben Thompson: Why Apple let Gimlet Media get away

By swallowing up Gimlet, Spotify can now put the HBO of podcast studios behind its own garden walls.

In a follow-up to last week’s post (“Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play,”) and podcast (“Why Exponent Isn’t on Spotify)” one of new media’s sharpest analysts takes up the Apple angle.

From Ben Thompson’s Stratechery mail-blast Monday ($):

Apple meanwhile, is doubling down on the Services Narrative, which raises the question as to why it isn’t doing more to capitalize on podcasts? I can think of a few reasons:

  • One, Apple may not believe that podcasts are a very large opportunity, and that Spotify is mistaken.
  • Two, the scale of opportunity that moves the needle for Apple (an $800 billion company) must be massively larger than the scale of opportunity that moves the needle for Spotify (a $24 mbillion company).
  • Three, for all of Apple’s discussion about becoming a services company, perhaps it is the case that the company uncovered a gushing fountain of revenue from the App Store, and that senior leadership is still not particularly attuned to what other services revenue opportunities may exist.

I put these reasons in order: I think the likelihood of them being true increases the further down you go.

My take: Me too.

As a heavy media consumer who spends more hours per day on podcasts than on TV and print combined, I’m a believer in thje new golden age of audio. I’ve been rooting for Gimlet Media from the start, and I couldn’t be happier for Alex Blumberg, Matt Lieber and the crew. Like the breakthrough podcast Serial, Gimlet was an early spin-off of This American Life that brought national public radio-quality production values and story telling to the birthing of a new medium. Gimlet’s early work—including Blumberg’s own radically transparent StartUp—will still be available on Apple Music. Gimlet’s new work, I presume, will not.

13 Comments

  1. David Emery said:

    That’s interesting! I spend zero time on podcasts, I’d MUCH rather read than listen. (Listening is ‘too low bandwidth’ to hold my full attention, and if I’m doing other stuff, I find that podcasts are either distracting or more frequently get ignored.) But I guess that’s one (dis)advantage of not having to commute to work 🙂

    1
    February 11, 2019
    • Gregg Thurman said:

      I spend zero time on podcasts, I’d MUCH rather read than listen. (Listening is ‘too low bandwidth’ to hold my full attention

      I AGREE

      1
      February 11, 2019
    • David Emery said:

      Your dog must be bigger than my toy poodles, who I have to struggle with to walk to the end of the street 🙁

      0
      February 12, 2019
    • S Lawton said:

      Apple is a money making machine. It would be wise to spend more of it on something other than their stock.

      0
      February 11, 2019
    • Turley Muller said:

      Small potatoes. Gimlet revenue probably less than $20M. I don’t see SPOT getting a return on that investment anytime soon.. But, I’m sure SPOT has a different viewpoint than AAPL on the subject being that its revenue is in the few billions vs few hundred billions.

      1
      February 11, 2019
  2. John Konopka said:

    Another one got away. Amazon is reported to buying eero. That’s too bad. I was looking to buy some of them.

    It’s curious that Apple exited the home router market. Seems like a good place to put a secure service that could support HomeKit.

    1
    February 11, 2019
  3. S Lawton said:

    ” they’re trying to incorporate iBooks into it but having difficultly with the publishers. ” Gee, I wonder why!

    0
    February 12, 2019

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