Why Did Apple Really Buy Topsy?

Apple isnEUt quite ready to compete with the social media giants, but that doesnEUt mean the consumer electronics titan isnEUt looking for more social intelligence. Apple has acquired Topsy for more than $200 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Topsy offers Twitter insights that promise to detect and follow breaking news, drill into any new event, and get instant results. The social insight company will let Apple analyze competitorEUs Web traffic and sets the stage for making better decisions through analyzing billions of Twitter conversations in real time.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment, but a spokesperson told the Journal, EUApple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.EU Neither Twitter nor Topsy was immediately available for comment.

WhatEUs AppleEUs Plan?

We asked Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, for his take on the reported deal. He told us itEUs an unlikely acquisition but it may have several objectives. Topsy claims to have the only full-scale index of the public social Web and can instantly analyze any topic, term or hashtag across years of conversions on millions of Web sites.

EUAmong them Topsy may help Apple improve search and social recommendations for content. There may also be a Siri angle. And Topsy analytics -- the company has the entire Twitter search archive and EUfirehoseEU -- may be useful in a number of ways,EU Sterling said.

EUThis may also partly be a pricey EUacqui-hireEU as well. I suspect the technology and Twitter access will be deployed in a number of ways by Apple over time. But the pairing of Topsy and Apple was definitely not obvious or expected,EU he added.

An Advertising Play?

Topsy would not be AppleEUs first social media play. The company previously launched Ping, a music-sharing service, that quickly shut...

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