"It definitely is a strategic move and it highlights the importance we put on mobile," Steve Wadsworth, president of Disney Interactive Media Group, told The Associated Press.
The initial focus will be on making games for Apple Inc.'s iPhone, iPad and other emerging mobile platforms, he said.
Tapulous already has 30 million users on Apple platforms with games such as Tap Tap Revenge, for which it has put out versions with artists such as Metallica, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. A new game called Riddim Ribbon features The Black Eyed Peas.
Tapulous Inc.'s small staff will remain at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, which Wadsworth says is a benefit because it is in the high-tech developer community around San Francisco. Disney also owns Pixar Animation Studios in nearby Emeryville.
He did not disclose the terms of the acquisition.
Tapulous founder and CEO Bart Decrem and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Lacy will take on mobile business development roles at Disney as part of the deal, Wadsworth said.
As a possible benefit, Disney could usher artists such as Plain White T's from its label, Hollywood Records, onto Tap Tap platforms, but Wadsworth declined to speculate on future products.
Disney has had some success of its own in mobile applications. It recorded more than a million downloads of such apps as Alice in Wonderland Lite and JellyCar2. On Thursday, Disney also launched an iPad app for exploring and buying new and classic Disney movies.