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[Update: Disney confirmed the deal]

Music rhythm game maker Tapulous has been acquired by Disney, according to a published report.

If it’s true, it’s a momentous event for the iPhone game startup Tapulous, which has succeeded against the odds as a startup in a music game genre dominated by big companies such as MTV and Activision Blizzard. Tapulous started out early on the iPhone with Tap Tap Revenge, where you tapped the touchscreen of the iPhone or shook it to stay in rhythm with the music.

It was akin to Guitar Hero, but it took years for Activision Blizzard to come out with an actual Guitar Hero game on the iPhone. By that time, Tapulous had cemented its lead with myriad versions of its Tap Tap Revenge games as well as a new Riddim Ribbon music game, which hit No. 1 on the App Store when it launched in February. In April, Tapulous launched Tap Tap Radiation for the iPad.  Tapulous has sold millions of games.


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Techcrunch says that Bart Decrem, chief executive of Tapulous in Palo Alto, Calif., will join Disney as a vice president, reporting directly to Disney Interactive Media Group chief Steve Wadsworth. We’re checking for comment from the company now. Disney has been on an acquisition spree, buying a number of studios and investing heavily in high-quality games. Its big titles of the year — Toy Story 3, Disney Epic Mickey, and others — have all come from companies Disney Interactive Studios has acquired in recent years.

It’s part of a grand plan to make Disney as dominant in games as it is in other forms of entertainment. That’s still a work in progress. But the Tapulous deal shows that Disney is also paying attention to the emerging social and mobile game businesses.

Tapulous raised $1.8 million from angel investors Marc Benioff, Jeff Clavier, Andy Bechtolsheim and Rajeev Motawni.

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