When Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced plans to introduce HealthKit and HomeKit at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, it wasn't just signaling a move to carve out a big chunk of the money spent in these niche markets. Rather, CEO Tim Cook was expressing a strategy to aggregate and improve every touchpoint to your health or home -- all from the friendly confines of an iPhone.
Can you imagine Apple replicating this for every conceivable niche or need? I can, and I think Spotsetter may be called on to help.
Spotting an opportunity
What's Spotsetter? An app that Apple acquired recently, TechCrunch reports. Co-founder Johnny Lee posted a brief "farewell" note to the company's blog a week ago, saying that he and co-founder Stephen Tse still have "big dreams" for personalized search. Apparently they'll now get to pursue those aspirations as Apple employees.
TechCrunch says Apple is as much acquiring the technology and co-founders as the company. What will the Mac maker get? An app whose patent-pending algorithm pulls data from users' social networks and combines it with content from over 30 different reviews sites to show you where you might want to go.
iPhone users could search via keyword, category, or place and see what their friends liked. Spotsetter also allowed for customizing the experience by tagging friends as "experts" in certain categories to influence results. Data on tens of millions of venues were accessible in Spotsetter's servers by the time of the deal.
Wearing the Web
And yet I'm unconvinced that Apple sees Spotsetter as a better version of Foursquare or as a way to enhance Apple Maps. Instead, I imagine Cook salivating over what lies underneath Spotsetter.
What if this deal isn't so much about the app but the algorithm? What if it's about smoothly aggregating any kind of information from dozens of social networks and hundreds of content sites to serve any niche or need? Or, put another way, what if Spotsetter's algorithm is the glue that makes it easy to create new "kits," allowing an iPhone or iWatch to enhance an everyday experience? That would be worth quite a bit, indeed.
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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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