Apple has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal
that it has purchased social media analysis firm Topsy Labs
for over $200 million, though the final price was not disclosed. The company declined to elaborate on why it acquired Topsy, which is mainly known for its analysis of Twitter's output
of both tweets and user data -- but its ability to target ads to iTunes Radio and mobile users, find "influencers" or use Twitter's data on music tastes to help shape iTunes Radio stations are all among the possibilities.
The purchase further solidifies Apple's alliance with Twitter, which has grown quite close over the last couple of years. Twitter was the first social network to let Apple integrate its service into the OS, and allied with Apple on the now-defunct Ping music service. By contrast, Apple's relationship with Facebook, while successful for both companies, has occasionally been more contentious
Other potential uses of the Topsy technology could be used for other services, such as real-time traffic report supplementary data for Maps, or allowing users to analyze their own Twitter archive. Examples of Topsy's technology -- which claims to be able to search every tweet made since 2006 -- can be found on its website
. An "everything" search for "Doctor Who," for example, reveals that tweets on the topic hit a peak following the release of the 50th anniversary special but have returned to normal levels since then (roughly 1,000 tweets per hour) along with other trends within the topic.