Apple buys startup Topsy

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Apple buys startup Topsy

Gets rich Twitter data.

Apple has acquired social media search and analytics startup Topsy in a reported US$200 million (A$220 million) deal.

The company specialises in analysing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics.

Apple declined to comment on what had it attracted it to the company or what it planned to do with it.

"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.

The iPad and iPhone maker often does what it calls "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.

This year, it paid a reported US$350 million for Israeli 3D chip developer PrimeSense, perceived as an effort to incorporate gesture technology into its devices. And in 2008, it paid a reported US$280 million for a semiconductor designer that eventually yielded the current line of processors that power the iPhone and iPad.

Apple's main effort in social media has revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into its iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a news feed, was shut down after failing to gain traction.

But the California gadget maker has been increasingly making it easier for people to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

It also operates iTunes Radio, an online streaming music service that competes with Pandora and could benefit from Topsy's data on consumer sentiment.

Apple closed 0.9 percent lower on Monday and was holding steady in after-hours trading.

Why Topsy?

Some industry experts thought it likely that the company - which continually tries to enhance its iPhones, iPads and Mac products in the face of ever-strengthening competition from the likes of Samsung - is looking to beef up customer-facing software.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said Topsy could be used to better serve app recommendations to users within iTunes and the App Store.

"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, with the objective of sprucing up its online apps store.

Topsy is a Twitter partner and enjoys direct access to the messaging service's billions of tweets over several years - and has indexed all them to make them readily and rapidly search-able.

The startup has received funding from BlueRun Ventures, Ignition Partners, the Founders Fund and Scott Banister.

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