Why Did Apple Buy Topsy?

A couple of theories for you to ponder.

According to Charles Arthur of The Guardian:

Apple’s purpose in buying the company could be to improve its iAds service, which has suffered from poor sales, or to improve its general web services functionality as it tries to compete with Google and Microsoft as the basis of smartphone and tablet competition shifts from hardware towards software and services. Apple lags behind Google in particular in web services, where the search company has advantages in fields such as local data, maps, and voice search.

Alternatively it may intend to use it for indexing apps and to improve search using its Siri voice control system and in the App Store, where finding the right app is increasingly difficult as the catalogue grows.

Hayley Tsukayama of The Washington Post writes:

In some ways, the deal seems to be an odd one, considering that Apple has largely left the social world to its tech peers. Apart from a poorly received attempt at a music-based social network called Ping, Apple has essentially opted to build social networking into its services through partnerships — including one with Twitter.

But Topsy’s value is not necessarily in what it can teach Apple about building a social product, but rather in exactly what it’s already doing — reading sentiment. That sort of technology could give the firm an edge in seeing what complaints social media users have about its own or competitors’ products to inform its own next moves. It could also be useful for recommending products on the iTunes store, based on reader reviews.

Or Apple could use the technology to turn inward as well. The technology Topsy uses to understand how Twitter users feel about an event or product could be used, for example, to improve Siri, as The New York Times suggested in its report. The firm could also use the technology in a more straightforward way — perhaps giving Apple users the option to search Twitter simply by using the product as-is.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Dowskin suggests:

While it’s not clear how Apple plans to use Topsy, one possible scenario would use data from Topsy to alert listeners to songs that are trending or artists being discussed on Twitter. Apple could also use Topsy to monitor how Twitter users chat about Apple products and applications.

I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to discussing it on the podcast tonight.

Reckoner had its humble beginnings way back in June of 2013.

Founded by James Croft, along with Peter Wells and Anthony Agius they created what would go on to become one of Australia’s most highly regarded and award winning independent tech blogs.

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