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With Topsy, Apple may be gunning for Google’s Search business

Apple Topsy Acquisition

Apple’s $200 million purchase of Topsy prompted speculation earlier this week on what the iPhone maker may do with the analytics firm. PeerIndex founder Azeem Azhar in an article on LinkedIn proposes Topsy as a way for Apple to reduce users’ reliance on Google Search on its devices. Instead, Apple would serve custom search results provided in part by Topsy technology. Topsy is a “search engine, at its heart,” Azhar writes. “And Apple doesn’t have a search engine. Instead, iOS relies on its frenemy Google.” Even though Google Search is no longer the only search option on iOS devices, many users still prefer it over Bing or Yahoo when looking for stuff online. A report in February claimed that the search giant may be paying Apple $1 billion per year in order for Google Search to be the default choice for users.

Azhar suggests that Apple could provide custom search results to users, by using a mix of information coming from a variety of sources including Topsy’s access to Twitter data and other social networks, and Apple’s existing data that’s already “flowing in” from iOS, Mac and iCloud usage. The resulting search experience would offer information from the web including “fresh social signals.” It would also be based on the user’s preferences, taken from iTunes and App Store use, and location, via Apple Maps.

Others have recently speculated that Topsy will help Apple get into marketing analytics (Forbes), improve Siri (The Wall Street Journal), improve Apple’s mobile ad business or improve App Store searches (TechCrunch). Apple has not actually shared any details on what it plans to do with the newly acquired technology.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.