Why Apple is betting big on search

“According to The Wall Street Journal, the maker of the Mac, the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod just paid more than $200 million for Topsy — a startup offering a rather impressive search engine for Twitter and other social sites — and that makes two social search buys in two months,” Ryan Tate reports for Wired. “In early October, Apple reportedly paid somewhere between $40 million to $60 million for app maker Cue.”

“Apple’s big bets on two properties well outside its core business are just the latest evidence that the personal technology sector is consolidating into the hands of a few enormous corporations — tech giants that integrate a wide range of online services, software, and physical devices,” Tate reports. “Google began as a search engine, but now the company offers a social network, its own mobile environment, and even its own phones. Facebook was originally just a social network, but now it does search, and yes, it too offers its own mobile operating system, running on [a] phone tagged with its own brand.”

MacDailyNews Take: That flopped in Kin-esque fashion – and that’s an insult to Kin.

“Apple is building a similar empire — just from the other direction,” Tate reports. “Nowadays, Apple is moving into all sorts of online services, including everything from iTunes to its new mobile mapping tool, Apple Maps. It’s not clear why the company is suddenly interested in social search, but there are so many ways the company could use Topsy and Cue, in part because both offer not only search engines but also tools for analyzing the use of social networks.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote on August 8, 2011:

Google will rue the day they decided to get greedy by working against Apple instead of with them.

Related articles:
With Topsy Labs acquisition, Apple gets rich Twitter data – December 3, 2013
Apple buys Twitter analytics startup Topsy Labs for $200 million – December 2, 2013
RUMOR: Apple acquires ‘Cue’ personal assistant app for $35-$45 million – October 3, 2013


  1. I see Apple as not owning a new market with this. Probably a useful way to integrate Twitter into Siri, pulling in pertinent information live in the Twitter-verse.

    Let’s stop assuming Apple is always dominating every market it touches, lest we disappoint ourselves.

    1. No one assumes that Apple, or anyone else, dominates every market it touches.

      Apple’s domination of particular markets has invariably come as a surprise to analysts or anyone else who always expect the dark forces to prevail.

      It’s called pessimism, and it’s a theory that usually works when there is no innovation, no hope, and no prospect of change. The dark forces are a regression to the mean, reducing the human race to mediocrity. Fortunately, humanity refuses to admit any such limits.

      1. hannahjs

        I’d rather be surprised. If Apple is creating the next big thing, or even a decent improvement on something that is a new area or category, then that’d be great.

        I think ANALYSTS sound a bit silly these days, looking for Apple’s next big thing, that they turn up the hype too much. I agree with most everything you say… except your first sentence. 🙂

      1. Really, relation has very little to do with intelligence/deftness in speech/etc. Good one though, if you are a fan of prejudice by familial relationships, which really is fallacy of association.

        Ok, Tommy?

  2. Apple is developing a whole sales system for brick and mortar mall shoppers. This will include iLocate, iAd, iAnalytics, and iPhone shopper app. You will get alerts for a user predefined shopping list that lets you know when and where a sale is for your personal interest and also alert vendors how much interest there is in their particular sale. No unwanted ads will ever be pushed to users.

  3. How about another way to protect their own users data? Part of Apple incs. reason because is that they have gained our hard earned trust first from protecting us from the big fat svengalis of the music world and now from spooks and data mining entities such as _oo_le. The next set of leeches appears to be emerging from social networking sites, heaven help us from all those fools who have sold their souls to the devil’s of social networking!

  4. Apple needs to build or license its own search engine and go head to head with Google. I’ll bet those dudes at Google wouldn’t be strutting around like 30 lb. barnyard roosters if Apple started pecking away at their market share. The first thing they’ll say is Apple is no threat to them in search when hundreds of millions of Apple device users suddenly have a new search engine at their disposal.

    1. The first really good idea you’ve put forward in a while. I’ll throw in with you. I like the barnyard analogy, let’s keep that. Sure, the mouthpieces at Google would disparage any opposition as they do even now. Dissembling and misdirection are two of their best skills, Penn and Teller like. But their search engine is their bread and butter, and Apple is carefully assembling an A-Team of real time social analytics that could give rise to a superior suite of data mining driven search algorithms. The Twitter partnership is ripening fast. In time past Apple owned a hardware advantage at best, now it is moving into social realms with resolve. I foresee warfare!

      1. my guess is sj devoted a good bit of thought to the strategy of this current direction and possibly shared it as one of his final mandates with closest apple confidants. and even if i’m just imagining this, there’s no doubt he had a resolve furious enough to give it plenty of his private attention.

  5. This makes perfect sense with the impending arrival of Angela Ahrendts; they hired her for her global branding talent, of which social media -in particular Twitter- was a major part during her time with Burberry. Placing Twitter and other social metadata in the hands of Ahrendts will give Apple a huge new advantage going forward.

  6. I need a search engine that has no ads.

    Someday… Apple will compete Google services without ads and available only to Apple products and of course Google will be give free services but with ads.

  7. Search is the ultimate killer app.
    It is a function that every user needs and runs regularly.
    It is the one must-have function that will only grow in importance, never wane.
    It is the key to so many threads of computer use.
    If Apple has not been working on a search engine for the last 1 years then SJ, TC and others have been asleep at the wheel.

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