Apple in a buying mood, acquires social analytics firm Topsy

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Date: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013, 08:24
Category: Announcement, Apple, iTunes Music Store, iTunes Radio, News, Services

topsyApple seems to be pretty busy this quarter buying up companies. Apple reportedly bought social-media analytics firm Topsy Labs Inc. for more than $200 million. According to The Wall Street Journal, Topsy’s tools can decipher how often a term is tweeted, find an influential person on a specific subject, or measure the exposure of an event or campaign. Describing Topsy’s process, WSJ noted;

“The company is one of a handful of Twitter Inc. partners with access to the so-called “fire hose”—the full stream of tweets since 2006, which now average roughly 500 million a day. Topsy then analyzes this information and resells it to customers.”

When addressed, Apple gave its typical boilerplate comment that…well, they don’t comment. The WSJ article went on to speculate that Apple’s goals for Topsy are unclear, but Topsy’s insights could be useful in the iTunes media store, Siri voice assistant, or the iAd advertising platform.

Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at Altimeter Group, said that…

…Topsy’s analysis could help Apple recommend songs, movies and TV shows to iTunes users. Topsy engineers could help Apple learn how to extract similar insights from other large data sets. Apple could benefit from a more forward looking view of what people’s interests are,” Ms. Etlinger said. “Twitter is optimized for understanding conversations around entertainment.”

Topsy was founded in 2007 by Vipul Ved Prakash, a former Napster Inc. engineer who had founded Cloudmark, a company specializing in anti-spam software. As a key feature, Topsy recently enhanced its ability to determine the location of posted tweets, using locations and events to improve its accuracy of determining country and city of origin.

The purchase isn’t much of a surprise. After Apple’s own foray into the field of social media with Ping failed, it instead jumped on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagons and began a tight integration of those services in both iOS and Mac OS X. It seems Apple now sees the wisdom of leveraging the raw data produced their usage for its own purposes, and hopefully benefiting us all in the end.

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