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EU watchdog gives Apple’s Shazam merger the thumbs up

AS EXPECTED, the European Commission (EC) has given the thumbs up to Apple’s acquisition of music discovery startup Shazam.

The EC launched an “in-depth” investigation into the acquisition back in April after multiple countries, including Austria, France, Iceland, and Spain, requested it assess the acquisition to determine whether it’s allowed under a European Union merger law.  

After carrying out “a wide range of investigative measures” and collecting feedback from “key market participants in the digital music industry”, the watchdog said on Thursday that it has concluded that the transaction would “raise no competition concerns” in Europe.

Specifically, the EC noted that the merged entity of Apple and Shazam would not be able to shut out competing for streaming services by restricting access to the Shazam app or by accessing commercially sensitive information about their customers.

“In particular, access to Shazam’s data would not materially increase Apple’s ability to target music enthusiasts and any conduct aimed at making customers switch would only have a negligible impact,” the EC said.

“As a result, competing providers of digital music streaming services would not be shut out of the market.” 

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: “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.”

The merger may have been given the go-ahead, but Apple has still yet to confirm how it intends to use Shazam once the acquisition completes.

At present, Shazam is already tightly-integrated with Apple’s Siri, allowing iPhone users to identify songs by saying “Hey Siri, what’s that song.”

Shazam’s other features, such as the ability to identify television shows, have not yet been integrated with the iOS assistant, and it’s likely that Apple is keen on the firm’s augmented reality tech that lets users scan books and advertisements, for example, which could then launch 3D animations, product visualizations, and 360-degree videos.

The acquisition would also mean that Apple would save money on the commissions that it pays Shazam for sending users to the iTunes Store, which makes up the majority of Shazam’s revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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