Apple Shutters its Topsy Social Analytics Business

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Shutters Its Topsy Social Analytics Business.

Topsy, the Twitter and general social media analytics service quietly bought by Apple for more than $200 million two years ago, closed its doors today.

Topsy was a popular choice for those who analyzed social media back in the day, particularly since it was one of handful of services that gained early access to Twitter’s full data firehose. Topsy, which began operations in 2006, described itself on its corporate blog as “operating the world’s only index of the public social Web,” according to an earlier eWEEK story. Topsy was used by global marketing, news, entertainment and financial organizations to obtain real-time insights into a wide variety of business questions—everything from spotting breaking news and identifying customer satisfaction issues to gauging response to television programming and understanding political sentiment. Apple has never publicly revealed why it bought Topsy Labs, but it’s likely the technology was used to overhaul the iOS 9’s “Proactive” tool, which searches a user’s apps for information. Topsy was built around the idea of real-time parsing of huge data sets with online tools that analyzed data from Twitter feeds and other sources to track consumer commentary and feedback for enterprises.

We first started hearing rumors of Topsy’s impending closure a year ago, when the company stopped allowing premium users — those who paid for additional analytics and services beyond the basic offering — to renew their accounts. In its short existence, Topsy garnered a devoted following for indexing every tweet ever published, organizing popular ones and finding how many times a hashtag was used — all for free. The Topsy tools also provided reports on how new products were being received by consumers and what people were telling their friends about various topics. In September, Apple announced the shutdown of its HopStop public transit and mapping app that it bought in 2013 as it moved to integrate transit and mapping services for customers in its latest iOS 9 operating system, which was released that month.

Writing at the time of Apple’s acquisition, TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino speculated that the underlying technology could be used to improve search with the App Store, and more: If I had to hazard a guess, this might be related to Apple building out the relevancy engine of its App and iTunes Stores. Adding social signals to the search algorithms of its stores could help to improve the relevance of search results and help Apple surface apps that are hotter and more interesting to users. Pulling the thread out a bit further, it’s possible that Apple could even use the data from your Twitter feeds to recommend apps on a more personal basis, rather than ‘generically’ to everyone. In November, Apple confirmed that it had acquired motion-capture technology startup Faceshift, which builds applications that capture human facial expressions as animated avatars or characters, earlier in the year.

In May, Apple acquired Coherent Navigation, a Silicon Valley startup that has been using the Iridium satellite network to develop a commercial, high-precision navigation service for a wide range of industries.

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