Topsy purchase gives Apple access to Twitter data Google doesn't have

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2015
While the exact purpose behind Apple's newly announced acquisition of social media data firm Topsy remains unknown, the acquired company is one of a handful of firms with access to exclusive data from Twitter the likes of which Google does not have.

Topsy


Search giant Google formerly had access to detailed Twitter data, but the agreement between the two companies was severed in 2012. But Twitter has maintained partnerships for its so-called "firehose" of data with smaller search partners such as Microsoft's Bing, which announced an extended agreement with the social networking site in November.

Now, with its confirmed purchase of Topsy, Apple enters into an exclusive club of companies with access to highly detailed data from Twitter.

Along with Gnip, Data Sift and NTT Data, Topsy is one of four "certified data resellers" with exclusive rights to collect and resell Twitter data, according to The Wall Street Journal. Those four companies are responsible for the majority of the social networking site's data revenue.

Companies like Topsy can resell the data to "hundreds of smaller software analytics firms," the report said. To maintain the elite relationship with Twitter, the companies must audit their clients, ensure that user's real names are not revealed, and help crack down on spam on the site.

"Though Twitter's data is public, the sheer volume of tweets -- roughly 500 million a day -- means that only companies with sophisticated software and storage capabilities can analyze it," reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote.

The agreement to purchase Topsy is key because Apple's chief rival in the mobile software space, Google, does not have access to such data from Twitter. That could allow Apple to improve its search algorithms, whether for its Siri personal assistant or for discovering data in its iTunes Store or App Store, in ways that Google cannot.

Topsy


Apple's purchase of Topsy was revealed on Tuesday, with a reported price of over $200 million. The company confirmed the acquisition with a typical boilerplate statement declining to reveal its "purpose or plans."

Beyond search, it's been suggested that Topsy could be applied to Apple services such as iTunes Radio, allowing it to help identify and recommend artists or songs based on Twitter trends. It's also been suggested that Apple could offer real-time analysis of market trends to sell advertising on its iAds platform.

Data from Topsy could also help Apple better identify trends for mobile applications, allowing the company to better recommend and discover new software options from the iOS App Store.

The company bolstered its App Store search results last year with the acquisition of Chomp, a mobile application search engine. Chomp's card-like search results layout was introduced that same year in iOS 6.

Other confirmed acquisitions from Apple since August alone are PrimeSense, makers of the motion tracking technology behind Microsoft's original Xbox Kinect; Cue, a personal assistant app for iPhone; AlgoTrim, a Swedish data compression company; Embark, a transit data provider; Matcha.tv, a second-screen startup; and Passif Semiconductor, a power-efficient chipmaker.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38

    Sounds like Apple is getting into the user data mining game too.

  • Reply 2 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Your thinking inside a box. Only Apple knows what they are up to with this purchase.

    Apple needs to begin to address fundamentals across their internet service, aside from this purchase I mean. Just look at their online stores: cmd+clicking a product image doesn't activate the correct action (open in tab). Why this is important is so the user can use the search results to load of a few products they may be interested in for convenience, and contextual clicking an image results in this:

    An image link? WTF?

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/35688/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

    A worrying proposition if Apple were to go near attempting to build a search engine. This is amateur hour stander web behaviour they can't get right. I am not suggesting they will built a search engine, in fact I'd bet against it happening. I only point out glaring problems Apple's has that can be easily addressed. Another issue I have is that iOS 7 unlocking animation: what's the waiting period for? It's ridiculous.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Topsy has it, doesn't mean Apple will get it. I'm assuming Twitter could chose to turn off the firehose whenever they want.
  • Reply 4 of 38

    This is a Siri play. It will be added to Siri's functionality and will appeal to the demographic that searches Twitter more often than they search Google.

     

    I'm a bit surprised that Twitter didn't pick up Topsy. They have a history of buying Twitter-related services (beginning with the first Twitter search engine) and now they have more money than Roosevelt. Topsy seems like a natural fit...unless Twitter is already marketing their own analytics package.

  • Reply 5 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Topsy has it, doesn't mean Apple will get it. I'm assuming Twitter could chose to turn off the firehose whenever they want.

     

    Exactly what I was thinking. They have other plans.

  • Reply 6 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cherrypop View Post

     

    This is a Siri play. It will be added to Siri's functionality and will appeal to the demographic that searches Twitter more often than they search Google.

     

    I'm a bit surprised that Twitter didn't pick up Topsy. They have a history of buying Twitter-related services (beginning with the first Twitter search engine) and now they have more money than Roosevelt. Topsy seems like a natural fit...unless Twitter is already marketing their own analytics package.


     

    The funny thing is Twitter was actually using Topsy's services for big moments like elections and sporting events:

     

    https://election.twitter.com

  • Reply 7 of 38
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

    Just look at their online stores: cmd+clicking a product image doesnt activate the correct action (open in tab). A worrying proposition if Apple were to go near attempting to build a search engine. This is amateur hour stander web behaviour they can't get right.

     

    But it does. You’re over the image: it gives you access to the image. You’re over the link, it gives you access to the link.

     

     

    Never mind that the image is a carousel of images, which also changes proper behavior.

  • Reply 8 of 38
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Topsy has it, doesn't mean Apple will get it. I'm assuming Twitter could chose to turn off the firehose whenever they want.

     

    These things are usually controlled by things called contracts. In other words, whether Apple buying Topsy would allow Twitter to shut off the data is in the contract between Twitter and Topsy. Apple has seen that contract. More importantly, the article said Topsy is one of four sources of revenue for its data stream. Why would Twitter want to see that go, especially since Apple and Twitter seem to have a good relationship. Apple built Twitter hooks right into its OSes. 

     

    It will be interesting to see how Apple uses this buy. I can see it doing some kind of iTunes integration. It could also be used to improve Siri. I like the idea of a search engine, but that might be tough to do. I doubt Apple is doing that though. 

  • Reply 9 of 38
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    tbell wrote: »
    These things are usually controlled by things called contracts. In other words, whether Apple buying Topsy would allow Twitter to shut off the data is in the contract between Twitter and Topsy. Apple has seen that contract. More importantly, the article said Topsy is one of four sources of revenue for its data stream. Why would Twitter want to see that go, especially since Apple and Twitter seem to have a good relationship. Apple built Twitter hooks right into its OSes. 

    It will be interesting to see how Apple uses this buy. I can see it doing some kind of iTunes integration. It could also be used to improve Siri. I like the idea of a search engine, but that might be tough to do. I doubt Apple is doing that though. 
    Good points. There's lots of ways Apple could use this. I still think there is a TV play here somewhere.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    i would bet that it is not what Topsy is analyzing but how they are analyzing it, that Apple is interested in. the future for all Internet involved companies is mining big data.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    Everyone seems to be focused on what Apple might do with the Twitter data access that ownership of Topsy gives it. Perhaps they are thinking in the totally opposite direction?

    "Companies like Topsy can resell the data to "hundreds of smaller software analytics firms," the report said. To maintain the elite relationship with Twitter, the companies must audit their clients, ensure that user's real names are not revealed, and help crack down on spam on the site."

    I guess maybe Apple has its own huge river of data, and perhaps they are looking for creative ways to monetize it. The protection of user identity requirements imposed by Twitter might be the key factor in this purchase.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    But it does. You’re over the image: it gives you access to the image. You’re over the link, it gives you access to the link.

     


     

    You're not making sense. The image is also meant to be a link; it's common practice: everywhere! Apple's online store web masters should know and be fixing this. Sometimes it's as if Apple has never heard of the internet. There's no reason why Google should be so much better than Apple at this. I wouldn't accept it on a website I built myself; Apple definitely shouldn't. The fact that this hasn't been addressed at this stage of Apple online store speaks volumes.

  • Reply 13 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    Never mind that the image is a carousel of images, which also changes proper behavior.


     

    That's a poor excuse. Besides, this annoyingly non-standard behaviour is the same for non-carousel images on the store. Defend Apple on this and you are certainly a fool.

  • Reply 14 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I still think there is a TV play here somewhere.

     

    I don't know why, but I immediately got the same feeling for no obvious reason at all.

  • Reply 15 of 38
    irelandireland Posts: 17,490member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macmtnman View Post



    I guess maybe Apple has its own huge river of data, and perhaps they are looking for creative ways to monetize it.

     

    I don't see this happening at all. No way.

  • Reply 17 of 38
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,791member

    More than likely, Apple is mainly interested in Topsy's search and analytics algorithms which could be used in numerous areas including using the current data to start their own web search engine, Siri, local search, iTunes store search / "top" lists, etc.

     

    However, if Apple is deciding to get serious about iAds, this would be a great "in" to the social consciousness.

     

    Could be a double blow to Google; beef up their advertising game and set their own search engine as the default on their products.

  • Reply 18 of 38
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,791member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

     

     

    That's a poor excuse. Besides, this annoyingly non-standard behaviour is the same for non-carousel images on the store. Defend Apple on this and you are certainly a fool.


     

     

    There are many websites that use "onclick" events in images to run a javascript - which is perfectly acceptable behavior. No web browser would be able to determine if that results in loading a new page or not.

  • Reply 19 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

     

    Sounds like Apple is getting into the user data mining game too.


     

    Why not. Google got into the hardware game.

  • Reply 20 of 38
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    Good points. There's lots of ways Apple could use this. I still think there is a TV play here somewhere.

    I'm thinking there is a lot of good suggestions here, but maybe we might see something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Like an "intelligent agent." Siri gets more context sensitive via twitter feeds and knows nicknames and habits -- as well as locations and the usual calendar events.

     

    However, I don't think Apple is Data-mining -- if I were them I wouldn't because it provides a real alternative to Google. An "intelligent agent" is you datamining yourself, and then the agent itself can aggregate and be anonymous. The outside world doesn't need to know on who's behalf it is working.

     

    OK, this is my "sci fi" idea from decades ago, but I've been waiting for such a thing to evolve out of something like Google+ -- but they took it the complete wrong way because they keep wanting to OWN your data and be in control. The future belongs to companies that respect you, and work FOR YOU. In exchange, I'm happy to throw revenue their way.

     

     

    Google and other companies have forgotten that respecting people can be profitable. Not treating people as chumps and selling their data.

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