Apple has long provided devices and software people use for social networking, but now it's moving into the business of analyzing what all that chattery content entails.
The company on Dec. 2 said it acquired San Francisco-based social media analytics provider Topsy Labs for about $200 million, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the deal to The Journal but refused any other comment.
Topsy provides real-time parsing of huge data sets with online tools that analyze data from Twitter feeds and other sources to track consumer commentary and feedback for enterprises. It can determine how often a specific term is tweeted or retweeted and how the term is used, identify an influential person on a specific subject, or measure the exposure of an advertising event or campaign.
The tools also provide reports on how new products are being received by consumers and what people are telling their friends about various topics.
Topsy's services enable its customers to tap into a huge archive of more than 425 billion tweets, beginning in 2006 and continuing through the present day.
In its corporate blog, six-year-old Topsy positions itself as "operating the world’s only index of the public social Web." The service is used by global marketing, news, entertainment and financial organizations to obtain real-time insights into a wide variety of business questions: everything from spotting breaking news and identifying customer satisfaction issues, to gauging response to television programming and understanding political sentiment.
Some large corporations use Topsy as their day-to-day social dashboard to track the impact of trending topics and predict future events, the company said.
Apple could use Topsy's trends data and proprietary Twitter access to improve its Siri search on iPhone. It also could be used as a more reliable way to present users with trending topics and search results.
Topsy, as one of Twitter's early certified partners, has filed for more than a dozen patents related to social networks, including systems and methods for prediction-based crawling of social media networks and systems, and methods for customized filtering and analysis of social media content collected over social networks.
Topsy was backed by BlueRun Ventures, Ignition Partners, Founders Fund and Scott Banister.