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EU regulators give long-awaited approval to Apple’s Shazam acquisition

September 6th, 2018 at 2:27 PM
Apple Shazam acquisition

We don’t yet know how much Apple agreed to pay or what its plan is for the service. Nevertheless, European regulators said today they’ve given an official green light for the acquisition of music recognition app Shazam that Apple announced back in December.

Apple is believed to have paid a few hundred million dollars for the app, with its well-known ability to take a snippet of audio and correctly identify the music that’s playing. That ability has already made its way to Siri, and it’s expected to be a boost for Apple Music, perhaps as a song or new artist discovery tool.

In explaining its approval of the deal, the European Commission said today that Apple and Shazam “mainly offer complementary services and do not compete with each other.” The commission also said it found that the merged entity “would not be able to shut out competing providers of digital music streaming services by accessing commercially sensitive information about their customers.” Also, that the merged entity wouldn’t be able to shut out competing providers of digital music services by cutting off access to Shazam.

“Data is key in the digital economy,” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement about the deal. “We must therefore carefully review transactions which lead to the acquisition of important sets of data, including potentially commercially sensitive ones, to ensure they do not restrict competition. After thoroughly analyzing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market.”

Now, it’s just a question of how Apple will put the service to work to shore up its own offerings. A 9to5Mac report today notes there are potential synergies even outside Shazam’s core music identification features, like synced lyrics that highlight the right line as a song plays.

Other commentary today has focused on the potential here for Apple to somehow use Shazam to get a leg up on Spotify, though it’s not clear yet how that will happen. Nevertheless, music is definitely an area Apple is increasingly focused on. Its Apple Music offering, specifically, is part of the company’s services business which includes subscription arrangements that generate a steady stream of revenue to complement Apple’s more cyclical device business.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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