4 Reasons Apple Cares About Twitter

By/Erik Sherman (MoneyWatch) Apple (AAPL) has just bought a social media analytics firm called Topsy Labs that looks at all the traffic Twitter (TWTR) users generate.

(MoneyWatch) Apple (AAPL) has just bought a social media analytics firm called Topsy Labs that looks at all the traffic Twitter (TWTR) users generate.

Apples isn't known for its interest in social networking. The company's music-centered Ping network failed, and it does less than many prominent gadget makers to tap the power of social media. The company indirectly benefits from user buzz, but it won't make any short lists for innovative social marketing. Apple's forte is product marketing, PR and traditional media.

So why would Apple buy a company focused on analyzing social media data? Here are four reasons:

1. Although Apple may not be a major social media player, it appreciates those who are. For the last few years, the company has increasingly integrated Twitter access into iOS, Apple's mobile platform. But because Twitter is separately hosted, it would be difficult for Apple to know exactly how its customers are using the service. This gives them a direct look into Twitter, as Topsy has indexed all tweets going back to 2006. That creates a powerful and searchable mass of data.

2. Given Topsy's rich store of data, Apple could get significant insight into its own marketing, customer behavior, perceptions of competitors, consumer interests and potential market opportunities.

3. Apple continues its rivalry with Google (GOOG) on multiple fronts and has begun pulling away from dependence on the latter's services. Google doesn't have the Twitter data access that Topsy has had. When it comes to search -- and that's exactly what Apple's voice-driven Siri service is -- Apple will now be able to pull in massive amounts of personal and localized data to aid in presenting answers.

4. One of Apple's strengths is as a reseller of entertainment media, primarily music or video. Not only could the company benefit from Topsy in making music, movie and TV recommendations by incorporating what it could learn from Twitter data, but the Topsy's engineers could help Apple learn to do the same thing with the massive amounts of data that it already tracks from all the user activity on iTunes. Apple also could pass some of these insights along to its media partners for stronger relationships.
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