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Apple buys Twitter analytics firm Topsy

Apple has entered the world of Twitter data analytics by acquiring Topsy with speculation rife as to what it actually plans to do with the company.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple acquired the venture-capital backed analytics startup for over $200 million [£122 million] and in the process is one of the few to have access to Twitter’s entire data stream.

The service can provide all manner of insights to its clients including how often a term is tweeted, how long a topic maintains its peak buzz, as well as identifying the most influential tweeters on a particular topic. Another string to its bow is the ability to identify tweets according to geographical origins and claims to be 95 per cent accurate in this regard. Topsy is part of a rare group of Twitter’s partners that are able to access data from the company’s “Firehose” and it’s this that has led to it already being able to raise $32 million [£19.5 million] in venture capital funding.

Prior to 2012 Twitter allowed a lot more access to the “Firehose” but restricted it to a handful of partners, including Topsy, Gnip and DataSoft, thus meaning that Topsy’s business is a lucrative one.

Apple is predictably tight-lipped and simply confirmed the acquisition by stating: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

In terms of what Apple will use the acquisition for, most commentators are leaning towards speculation that it will use the service to help its customer facing software.

“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, told Reuters. “With apps, it is really difficult to find good recommendations. It’s much harder to see what people use and why.”