“Apple Inc has acquired social media search and analytics startup Topsy [for $200 million], an unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social networking,” Poornima Gupta reports for Reuters. “Apple confirmed the acquisition but would not say why it bought the company, which specializes in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics.”

“The California gadget maker has been increasingly making it easier for people to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter,” Gupta reports. “It also operates iTunes Radio, an online streaming music service that competes with Pandora and could benefit from Topsy’s data on consumer sentiment.”

“Speculation on Apple’s motives ran the gamut on Monday, but some industry experts thought it likely that the company – which continually tries to enhance its iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers in the face of ever-strengthening competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics – is looking to beef up customer-facing software,” Gupta reports. “‘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.”

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Apple buys Twitter analytics startup Topsy Labs for $200 million – December 2, 2013