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Apple Buys Wildly Popular Weather App Dark Sky

By Evan Niu, CFA - Apr 1, 2020 at 9:45AM

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The app is no longer for sale on Android.

For years, hyperlocal weather app Dark Sky has been a perennial fixture among the top paid weather apps in Apple's (AAPL 0.63%) App Store. The Mac maker has now scooped up the popular $4 app, Dark Sky announced in a blog post this week.

"Our goal has always been to provide the world with the best weather information possible, to help as many people as we can stay dry and safe, and to do so in a way that respects your privacy," Dark Sky co-founder Adam Grossman wrote. "There is no better place to accomplish these goals than at Apple."

Various weather icons

Image source: Getty Images.

What set Dark Sky apart

Apple is immediately killing sales of Dark Sky on Android, which will be a huge blow to the competing mobile platform. Existing Android users will be able to keep using the app until July 1, at which point it will be shuttered completely. The web-based platform that includes forecasts and maps will also be discontinued on that date. On Apple's iOS, there are no immediate changes and Dark Sky remains available to purchase.

Dark Sky has also built a business licensing its application programming interface (API) to third-party developers that run other weather services, collecting $0.0001 for every API request over the free daily limit of 1,000 requests. Following the acquisition, Dark Sky is no longer accepting new API customers, and existing customers will still have access to the API through the end of 2021.

That should give Apple ample time to implement whatever its plans are for Dark Sky. Apple's default Weather app currently sources its data from The Weather Channel, after switching from Yahoo! Weather a few years back.

While most weather services generally get their underlying meteorological data from various government agencies, Dark Sky differentiated itself by aggregating a plethora of sources from agencies all around the world and then stitching that information together with machine learning to create hyperlocal forecasts that are presented in an approachable interface.

No financial terms were disclosed, but in 2015 Dark Sky sold a minority stake to Applied Invention at an unknown valuation.

It's been a while since Apple bought an app

Apple acquires a company evert two to three weeks, CEO Tim Cook noted last year. Most of those deals either revolve around technology that the company wants to incorporate into future products or that can otherwise accelerate its own development timelines.

The last time that Apple bought an existing app or service outright was in 2018, with the purchase of Shazam, which is slowly being incorporated into Apple Music. Prior to that, the company had purchased Texture, the magazine subscription service that would eventually become Apple News+. Apple had similarly shut down Texture for Android, but only after News+ launched more than a year later.

Weather apps are among the most important categories in the App Store, and it's not an exaggeration to say that access to weather data can be a matter of life and death in emergency situations. In one fell swoop, Apple has picked up one of the leaders in the space while delivering a blow to Android.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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