NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc has shut down its Topsy Labs unit, which specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics, and the move prompted an outcry from many of its users.

The website for the platform www.topsy.com currently directs users to an Apple support page. On Tuesday night, Topsy sent out its last tweet from its ‏@Topsy account: "We've searched our last tweet."

Apple acquired Topsy in December 2013 for more than $200 million, an unusual purchase for a hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social networking. An Apple spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco-based Topsy was one of Twitter's early partners, enjoying direct access to the messaging service's billions of tweets over several years. It has indexed them all to make them readily and rapidly searchable.

"What the heck! Gone too soon," wrote Twitter user Doyan Wilfred (@ThinkDoyan) on Wednesday.

Adrian Parker (@adrianparker), another Twitter user, wrote: "Heartbreak. Topsy was my secret Twitter weapon (Tweapon?)"

Former employees of Topsy also took to social media to express their sadness.

"RIP (rest in peace) Topsy" Rishab Aiyer Ghosh (@r2g2), one of the four founders of the company, tweeted on Tuesday night.

Topsy employee Paul Gerard Porter (@paul_g_porter) tweeted: "What an incredible run we had - I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Topsy team #endofanera."

Before the Topsy acquisition, Apple's main effort in social media had revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into the company's iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a news feed, did not catch on and was shut down.

ADVERTISEMENT

Apple shares were down 0.4 percent at $110.01 on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Angela Moon and Melissa Fares; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)