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Apple snaps up FoundationDB for behind-the-scenes help

FoundationDB is building database technology that's intended to provide high-speed access to troves of information.

The folks at FoundationDB are headed to Cupertino. James Martin/CNET

Apple has acquired a Virginia-based company that's attempting to help firms quickly access massive amounts of data, according to new reports.

Apple bought FoundationDB recently, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, citing a comment from the iPhone maker. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Apple would only say that it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time," adding that it does "not discuss our purpose or plans." Although the comment wasn't an outright confirmation, Apple has used an identical comment when it has acquired other companies.

Speculation abounds over why Apple would acquire FoundationDB, which was established five years ago, but it's likely that the company's platform will be integrated into the back end of Apple's many services. FoundationDB is developing a technology that allows programs to more quickly access data stored in databases. Apple's many services, including iTunes, App Store and iBooks, all require fetching information from databases, and if successful, the FoundationDB technology could help those services more quickly access items and present them to users.

Apple acquires smaller companies from time to time, most recently picking up music analytics company Semetric and last year, buying Beats Electronics in a blockbuster deal. In the majority of cases, neither Apple nor its target company reveal details on the acquisition. Beats was one of the few outliers, with Apple making a splash about the $3 billion acquisition of the streaming-music company.

FoundationDB has remained tight-lipped on what's going on. The company posted a note on its community page thanking its users for their support and announcing it will no longer allow users to download its platform.

"Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years," the company wrote in its statement. "We're grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community."

Interestingly, FoundationDB didn't acknowledge that it was acquired, saying instead that it has "made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads."

Neither Apple nor FoundationDB immediately responded to a request for comment.