According to the NY Times, Apple might invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Twitter.

The companies have reportedly been in talk for a number of months and an investment would value the social media giant at $10 billion. That’s up from an $8.4 billion valuation from last August.

Sources said the two companies are not currently in negotiations but participated in earlier talks. With $117 billion in cash as of the most-recent quarter, Apple could easily invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Twitter without putting a dent in its war chest.

For its part, Twitter isn’t desperate for the cash, as the company’s CEO has said it has a “truckload of money in the bank,” which some tipsters claim amounts to roughly $600 million. It could stand, however, to link up with a powerful partner like Apple, which makes more money in a day than Twitter does in a year.

Twitter and Apple reached a closer partnership last year with the release of iOS 5, which brought system-level integration of the micro-blogging service. An Apple employee claimed off the record that a Twitter vice president is assigned to work full-time with Apple, the report noted.

Apple’s decision to bake Twitter into iOS 5 was a move that tipped its hand to the importance it places on the service. Our very own Matthew Panzarino wrote last year:

Apple doesn’t make moves like this lightly and obviously considers Twitter a safe bet. If that bet turns out to be wrong however, Apple will do whatever it takes to ensure that Twitter remains a part of its service. Ensuring that Twitter’s lifespan will be a long one.

Twitter doesn’t have an exclusive on social integration in iOS, however, as Apple has announced that it will include deep integration of Facebook in iOS 6.

Interestingly enough, a Twitter employee told the Times that the iOS 5 partnership was originally intended for Facebook. After Apple’s relationship with Facebook turned sour because of a disagreement over Ping, it turned instead to Twitter as a “lucky mistress,” the source said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in May that his company needs to be social but “doesn’t have to own a social network.” Of course, his comments certainly wouldn’t preclude the company from investing in one.

Meanwhile, Ping, Apple’s attempt at a social network, has failed to gain critical mass and recent reports suggest it will be killed off in the near future.

After announcing dividend and share buyback programs in March, Cook reiterated his predecessor’s line that Apple’s reserves will be used for “strategic opportunities.” One such opportunity was revealed earlier on Friday, mobile security firm Authentec revealed that Apple is purchasing it for $356 million.

Though Apple has tended to prefer smaller acquisitions, it has occasionally purchased a stake in companies that were vital to its own success. For example, it previously purchased minority stakes in content delivery network Akamai and graphics chip maker Imagination Technologies.

Users and pundits alike have been bracing themselves for a face-off between competing social networks. Twitter may have fired a warning shot this week when it blocked Instagram, which rival Facebook acquired in April for $1 billion, from using its feature for finding friends on Twitter.

Image via Flickr / eldh