While Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and most recently Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) with its acquisition of WhatsApp fight each other as they move to acquire companies valued in the billions, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is continuing its pursuit of smaller companies that don’t quite make the news that larger acquisitions do.
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Specifics of the Apple, Burstly deal

The deal, first reported by TechCrunch, was confirmed today by Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet in an email to MacWorld where she wrote, “ Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Whether Huguet wishes to discuss it or not, Burstly acquired TestFlight in 2011, and it remains one of the best platforms for iOS developers to quickly and easily download and install beta builds on their iOS devices.

Long viewed as something that  Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) should have been offering developers themselves for some time, the Cupertino, CA-based Apple finally pulled the trigger on the acquisition for an undisclosed amount of money.

In addition to TestFlight, Apple also acquired Burstly’s SkyRocket which provides mobile advertising solutions that could compliment Apple’s iAd network that is generally viewed as mediocre at best. However, most in the know believe TestFlight to be the real aim of Apple with the purchase of Burstly.

Speculation over TestFlight’s future

“Although it’s unclear what exactly  Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will do with [TestFlight], it could be a sign that the company is working on improvement to its distribution process that could help developers better manage their betas and track the deployment of their apps,” developer (and frequent Macworld contributor) Marco Tabini told Macworld’s Dan Moren.

Snowman founder Ryan Cash told Macworld something very similar in a recent email: “I’ve always wondered why Apple didn’t have a mechanism like this in place for developers to distribute their apps during beta testing. There’s a lot of room for improvement and I hope it’s a sign that Apple is going to invest more energy into helping developers manage more of the ‘behind the scenes stuff.’”

Moreover, the insights gleaned from beta-testing, which are often collected from testers in the form of analytics and other data, could be extremely helpful to Cupertino in terms of figuring out how people use apps.

“Other companies have established a presence in that space,” said Tabini, “and are using it as an opportunity to collect anonymous (and not-so-anonymous) data about App Store usage.”

Cash concurred, saying “I’d love to see an improved iTunes Connect, and perhaps even App Store analytics one day.”

Few in the industry believe that  Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will just put TestFlight to bed, but rather believe that they will add to it in the future.

This story would not have been possible without the published correspondence between Moren and Macworld.