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Apple pays $200m for Twitter insight from Topsy Labs

The acquisition marks an unusual foray into socia media for the Californian tech giant
  • @jjvincent

Apple has paid “more than $200 million” for Topsy Labs, a company than analyses tweets to provide insights into trending content and users’ interests.

The acquisition could feed into Apple’s business in a number of ways, including better targeted advertising, more accurate recommendations for iTunes purchases, and better search results from Siri, the company’s ‘intelligent personal assistant’.

Topsy has been described as “Google for social media” and is one of the few firms that has access to the Twitter “fire-hose”. This means they have complete access to the micro-blogging site’s entire catalogue of tweets and linked content, an index that now includes more than 425 billion data points and stretches back to the first ever tweet in 2006.

The deal was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, who noted that it was “unlikely” that the acquisition would have been approved without the blessing of Twitter.

Apple has been the only company to issue a statement, but has only offered their boilerplate response given in response to new acquisitions: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," said an Apple spokesperson.

Read this: Topsy - who are they and why did Apple buy them?

Apple has not previously had much success in leveraging the power of social networking, with the introduction of Ping in 2010 a notable failure.

Ping was integrated into iTunes to provide users with information about their friends’ purchases and offers personalized recommendations. The service was plagued by difficulties including spam and fake accounts and was shut down in 2012. This time round, Apple must be hoping that outside expertise can help them improve how they sell to customers.

Topys Labs is Apple's second major acquisition in recent weeks, after its purchase late last month of  PrimeSense. The Israeli-based firm specialises in motion sensing technology and was responsible for building the Kinect sensor for the Xbox 360.

It's been speculated that Apple could integrate the technology into the next generation of iPhones or even into a new, TV-based product.