This week it was announced that Apple has purchased social data analytics firm Topsy. A bit of a strange move on the surface, but when you consider that Topsy Labs is one of few companies that have real-time access to the Twitter “firehose”, it may not be so strange. The concept of having this unprecedented access is a contentious one, as many companies claim to have the “full firehose”, but there is no doubt that social data is largely behind this acquisition.
This quote from Vipul Ved Prakash, Co-Founder and CTO in an interview with Techrcrunch is a telling sign of the above: “The amount of data being created on Twitter plus Facebook today is more than the data being created on the rest of the web… Social data has become the bigger public corpus.”
Prior to purchase (a reported $200m), Topsy had raised $35 million in venture capital. But Topsy are not the social data company hitting the headlines of late, the recent Twitter IPO has sparked interest in social start-ups. Datasift raised a $42 million venture capital injection in series C round of funding this week. Insight Venture Partners led the round, who have also backed Flipboard, Buddy Media and Hootsuite. And it is Hootsuite who are quoted to have seen interest from investors double in the time directly before and after the Twitter IPO.
So, what should this tell us?
It is all about the data
Have no doubt in your minds that Apple are not intending to launch a range of social media services or products. Access to social data is what they are after but the question is how they plan to manipulate that data to improve or develop products. For example, this data could be invaluable for using “social signals” to inform a highly personalised relevant Siri search..
Social data provides real customer insight
It is not just about the “behind the scenes” aspects. Insight derived from social data can tell us more about our customers than we could have ever dreamed about knowing before. The term used by social listening platforms is a “real-time focus group” and they are not wrong. Access to the social data, and using the same methodology behind Apple products and communities will allow the company to gain a firmer understanding of their customer to inform product development.
It won’t be the last social data purchase
It wasn’t long ago that Twitter itself bought acquired Bluefin Labs to provide better integration between Twitter ad products and TV advertisers. It only took 4 months between January 2013 and May 2013 for Twitter to launch their TV Ad targeting services alongside Bluefin.
There are many, many emerging players in this space who are still in rounds of VC funding yet to be snapped up by the big players. WATCH THIS SPACE!
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