By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO Dec 2 Apple Inc has
acquired social media search and analytics startup Topsy, an
unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made
few forays into social networking.
Apple confirmed the acquisition but would not say why it
bought the company, which specializes in analyzing Twitter
data and providing insights into current sentiment on a
variety of topics.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported the news earlier,
cited people familiar with the deal as saying Apple paid over
"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
This year, it paid a reported $350 million for Israeli 3D
chip developer PrimeSense Ltd, perceived as an effort to
incorporate gesture technology into its devices. And in 2008, it
paid a reported $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, didn't catch
on and was shut down.
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
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.
Speculation on Apple's motives ran the gamut on Monday, but
some industry experts thought it likely that the company - which
continually tries to enhance its iPhones, iPads and Macintosh
computers in the face of ever-strengthening competition from the
likes of Samsung Electronics - is looking to beef up
"From an 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, with the
objective of sprucing up its online apps store, still one of the
largest in the mobile industry along with Google Inc's
Play for Android devices.
San Francisco-based Topsy is one Twitter's partners,
enjoying 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.