Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

European antitrust regulators set deadline for Apple-Shazam probe

The European Commission will investigate Apple's takeover of music startup Shazam | Emmanuel Dunand  AFP via Getty Images The European Commission will investigate Apple's takeover of music startup Shazam | Emmanuel Dunand AFP via Getty Images
Herman Weaver | 24 April, 2018, 05:05

The proposed acquisition, which the European Union has the power to block, would give Apple ownership of an app that helps users identify songs before directing them to Apple Music or Spotify AB to listen to and potentially buy or stream them. Although, the purchase price was not revealed at that time, it was reported that the deals costs around $400 million.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services". Shazam's main goal is to use the microphone on smartphones to listen to songs and provide valuable information to users, such as song title, artist and more.

The probe comes after the Commission said earlier this year it would either approve or investigate the deal by today, after receiving requests from member countries - including Austria - to look into the takeover due to competition concerns. The Commission fears that Apple may later use that information to target those customers and convince them to switch to Apple's proprietary music streaming platform, Apple Music. Until the investigation is concluded, it's not clear whether its promises would help.

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An acquisition of that size doesn't typically spark an antitrust investigation, but because of the popularity of Shazam and the amount of data it holds, regulators are anxious that Apple could end up with an unfair advantage.

4 deadline for its decision. While acknowledging the two companies offer complementary services (music streaming and music identification), the EC identified two areas of concern. Apple is the second place music streaming services, Shazam's service is utterly complementary (meaning the acquisition won't consolidate the market), and even the EC says Shazam "isn't a key entry point for music streaming services".

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