Apple’s takeover of Shazam cleared by EU


Apple’s £286m takeover of UK-based music app Shazam has been cleared by EU regulators.

The European Commission carried out an in-depth investigation of the proposed deal after it was announced in December last year, following a request for an inquiry on competition grounds by several member states.

The main concern was that a takeover of the song recognition tool could see rivals to the tech giant’s streaming service, Apple Music, put at a disadvantage.

Headphones are seen in front of a logo of online music streaming service Spotify in this February 18, 2014 illustration picture
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Spotify is the biggest player in the music streaming market

This is mainly because Apple – currently the second-largest player in the market behind Spotify – would obtain commercially sensitive data about rivals’ customers by owning Shazam.

But the commission ruled on Thursday that the merged entity would not have a unique advantage and Apple’s competitors would still have the opportunity to access and use similar databases.

It also found Apple would not be able to shut out competing providers by restricting access to Shazam.

The commission said the decision to clear the deal also reflected the fact that the app had “limited importance as an entry point to the music streaming services of Apple Music’s competitors”.

Shazam, founded in 2002, allows users to identify songs by pointing a smartphone or tablet at speakers playing music.

It employs about 250 people.

EU Commissioner of Competition Margrethe Vestager giveS an interview at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, on September 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager

The EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Data is key in the digital economy. 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 analysing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market.”

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