Apple buys Twitter search startup Topsy
Apple has made a rare foray into social media with the acquisition of Twitter search and analytics startup Topsy.
Apple confirmed the deal but wouldn’t say why it bought the company, which specialises in analysing Twitter data and analysing sentiment on a variety of topics.
It’s thought Apple paid more than $200 million for the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
From a usage perspective, they can use it for the app store and iTunes
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
Topsy did not respond to requests for comment.
Apple often does what it describes as “bolt-on” acquisitions – small deals to acquire technology that then gets integrated into existing or future products. Many of its acquisitions in recent years have been angled toward improving hardware.
Earlier this year, Apple paid a reported $350 million for Israeli 3D chip maker PrimeSense, in a possible effort to incorporate gesture tech into its devices. In 2008, the company paid a reported $280 million for a semiconductor designer that resulted in the current line of processors for the iPhone and iPad.
Apple’s social media efforts to date have been troubled. The company developed Ping in 2010, a music-oriented social network for iTunes, but shut it last year after it failed to gain traction.
But the company has been focusing on making it easier to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks.
It also operates iTunes Radio, its streaming music competitor to radio service Pandora, which could benefit from Topsy integration.
Speculation on Apple’s motives run the gamut, but some observers thought it likely that the company wants to beef up customer-facing software.
“From a usage perspective, they can use it for the app store and iTunes,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi, who added that Topsy could be used, for instance, to better serve app recommendations to users.
“With apps, it is really difficult to find good recommendations,” she said. “It’s much harder to see what people use and why.”
Apple also bought app-search tool Chomp last year to spruce up its online apps store.
San Francisco-based Topsy is one Twitter’s partners, enjoying direct access to the company’s billions of tweets over several years – and has indexed all them to make them readily and rapidly searchable.