Apple has bought social media analytics firm Topsy Labs for a rumoured $200m, giving the firm access to vast amounts of data from Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Founded in 2007, the firm has access to the so-called "fire hose" of Twitter, meaning it is allowed to tap into every tweet sent on the micro-blogging site and present them in a way that is accessible for end users.
The firm sells the service to its clients in order to allow them to "make better decisions" and "analyse billions of conversations in real time". Twitter's most recent data shows its users send more than half a billion tweets daily, making it a treasure trove for firms such as Topsy, which are able to handle the onslaught of information in a user-friendly way.
Apple confirmed the purchase, but provided no more information, using its standard response to enquiries relating to its acquisitions. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," a spokesman told V3.
The company's decision to buy Topsy is a departure from Apple's normal shopping habits; it tends to buy companies with technologies that enhance its core device, software and music businesses. But access to vast amounts of conversational data is a powerful thing, and will likely have multiple uses throughout its business.
Apple's iAds advertising platform has been discussed as a potential beneficiary, but it is just as realistic that Topsy's underlying data analytics technologies will be of use.
The firm has previously dabbled in social media, with its short-lived Ping music-centred social network, which shut down in 2012 after two years of service.
Apple has bought 17 companies in the past year, many of which remain completely unknown. In November it bought gesture control firm PrimeSense, the firm that made the technology behind Microsoft's Kinect technology.
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