Apple (AAPL) confirms it has acquired Topsy, a provider of search/analytics tools used by companies to monitor and analyze Twitter (TWTR) commentary from millions of users, and thereby gauge consumer sentiment. Sources tell the WSJ the purchase price was above $200M.
As always, Apple is refusing to comment on its post-acquisition plans. The WSJ notes Topsy, one of the few firms to gain licensed access to Twitter's full data "firehose," could bolster iAd, by providing advertisers with real-time data about trending Twitter subjects. It could also help Apple optimize and provide recommendations for various Internet services.
There has already been plenty of M&A activity (I, II) in the social media marketing software/services space, as companies look to better serve companies directing a growing portion of their digital ad spend towards Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. However, most of it has come from enterprise software vendors such as Salesforce, Oracle, and IBM.
The purchase highlights the value being placed on Twitter's user data, and the insights that could potentially be gleaned from it. Twitter generated $47.3M (11% of total revenue) from data licensing sales over the first nine months of 2013, +36% Y/Y.