TOPSY_Labs

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple has purchased Topsy Labs Inc., an analytics company that makes various products made to search and draw data from conversations happening on social media venues like Twitter and Google+. According to the report citing sources familiar with the acquisition, Apple paid around $200 million for the company:

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the deal but wouldn’t comment further. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” she said without elaborating further.

The report doesn’t provide any specific details on the reason behind the purchase, but it does speculate that Apple could possibly incorporate Topsy’s data from social media into services like iTunes Radio. For example, “to alert listeners to songs that are trending or artists being discussed on Twitter.”

The company has a Social Search tool on its website that indexes tweets from as far back as 2006 and much more, as well as Social Analytics and Social Trends tools on its site for tracking and comparing social media related content, mostly from Twitter. It also advertises an API for developers and a paid Pro service, but the website is currently “not accepting new trials” for the paid service, presumably due to Apple’s purchase of the company.

It’s also a possibility that the real-time data surrounding Twitter and other online social conversations could play a role in Apple’s iAds advertising business that currently powers the free version of iTunes Radio.

Apple has been making a lot of acquisitions lately– many mapping related– with Apple CEO Tim Cook noting at the company’s Q4 earnings call that it’s completed 15 strategic acquisitions this year alone. That’ around one every 3-4 weeks.

Update: The price of the deal might have been a lot more than $200M according to Fortune’s Dan Primack