Rumor: Apple seeks to invest 'hundreds of millions' in Twitter [u]

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According to New York Times sources, Apple has approached Twitter about a possible investment in the microblogging company valued in the "hundreds of millions" of dollars.

Update: A follow-up report from The Wall Street Journal claims its own sources have said Apple's talks with Twitter occurred over one year ago, not in "recent months" as described by the NYT, and ultimately bore no fruit. The Journal goes on to note that there are no "current formal investment or acquisition discussions between the companies."

In a report on Friday, The Times said people briefed on the matter claim Apple has been in talks with Twitter over the past few months though the publication was quick to mention that the purported negotiations are liquid and may not result in an agreement.

From the NYT report:

Apple has considered an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars, one that could value Twitter at more than $10 billion, up from an $8.4 billion valuation last year, these people said. They declined to be named because the discussions were private.

The publication notes the purported investment would not affect Apple's bottom line in any significant way as the company has $117 billion in liquid investments, but such a move would be unusual. Apple leans toward acquiring small start-ups and assimilating their technology for use in branded products, an example being Siri on the iPhone 4S. Earlier on Friday it was announced that Apple acquired AuthenTec, a small security company known for its work in fingerprint scanning technology, for $356 million.

Some speculate the talks may be in response to Google's recent social network push with Google+ as well as rumors that Facebook may be entering the handset market in the near future.

Apple has only dabbled in the space with its Ping social music network, though success was limited at best. Facebook was purportedly close to reaching a deal with Apple over Ping integration but negotiations ultimately fell through over what late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called "onerous terms." Early versions of Ping's software showed some evidence of Facebook Connect connectivity but the features were absent upon the service's debut in 2010.

At WWDC in June, Apple announced deeper Facebook integration in iOS 6 at this year's WWDC which will be implemented in a way similar to Twitter's tie-in to the mobile operating system. The new functionality is limited in scope, however, and is not considered to be a comprehensive solution.

Despite its previous missteps in the sector, the iPhone maker is looking to "go social" and CEO Tim Cook said as much at the D10 conference in May.

"Apple doesn't have to own a social network," Cook said during a D10 panel. "But does Apple have to be social? Yes."

Most recently Apple took Twitter cross-platform when it expanded the microblogging service's functionality to OS X Mountain Lion.

Twitter has yet to go public and reportedly has some $600 million in the bank on strong advertising revenue and $1 billion in accumulated financing. The company is expected to make an initial public offering in the coming years though the rumors are as yet unsubstantiated.

Both Apple and Twitter declined to comment on the matter.