EU is Investigating Apple’s Shazam Acquisition

Posted on April 23, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos with 17 Comments

EU is Investigating Apple's Shazam Acquisition

The European Commission announced today that it has launched “an in-depth investigation” of Apple’s proposed acquisition of Shazam.

“The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services,” UE commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a prepared statement. “Our investigation aims to ensure that music fans will continue to enjoy attractive music streaming offers and won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger.”

Apple announced in December 2017 that it intended to purchase Shazam for a rumored $400 million. Shazam is a mobile app and service that can use a mobile device’s microphone to identify playing music.

It’s unclear what the worry is here, as Apple doesn’t dominate digital music anymore and music identification capabilities are fairly common. But the EU complaint suggests that the Commission is concerned, in part, that Apple might use this acquisition to claw its way back to domination with its Apple Music service.

But the bigger worry—because, this is, after all, Europe—is that Apple could harm the competition.

“Apple [c]ould obtain access to commercially sensitive data about customers of its competitors for the provision of music streaming services in the European Economic Area,” the complaint notes. “Access to such data could allow Apple to directly target its competitors’ customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music. As a result, competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage.”


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Comments (17)

17 responses to “EU is Investigating Apple’s Shazam Acquisition”

  1. Stooks

    Huh? Harm the competition for music identification apps??? Did not know these apps where in such demand and the market for them was critical too........what exactly?

    I read that Apple is going to shutter Shazam and use its tech in Siri/Apple Music. If so then no worries about music identification app domination.

    Also in Europe the streaming music business is Spotify's to lose and by a big margin.

    • toukale

      In reply to Stooks:
      It's all about protecting spotify that's all. Spotify can't survived if the big 3 (Apple, Google, Amazon) really decides to compete with them. Right now the big 3 are not paying much attention to the music streaming market, it's just there because its something you need to have if you are a platform owner. Spotify is struggling now and they have everything going their way. Most number of users, available in more countries and have a free and cheaper services. If they can't make it when they have all those thing in their favors, I don't imagine them surviving if those 3 really start to put the screw on them for a year or two.
    • ins1dious

      In reply to Stooks:

      When setup and after a song is identified... Shazam can refer the song for purchase or streaming to other music services.

      The danger for Spotify and others is when/if Apple locks down the music identification to their own Music app.

  2. chump2010

    I am amused at some of the outrage by people about American companies being hurt by EU rules.

    I mean America is a true free market after all, except if your a Chinese company like Huwei and there is intense government pressure on carriers not to partner with them.

    I have said it before, and I will say it again. If American companies don't like the EU rules, they don't have to sell here. If they want to sell here, then they must comply with the EU rules and the reverse is also true.

    I think that consumer protections in the EU are much stronger than in the US. Much stronger.

    In a way, Americans gain every time the EU passes a new privacy law, because these massive companies often change their global privacy rules to suit the strictest set of countries. In this case, to comply with EU privacy laws.

    When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into play, I will imagine a lot of American companies that sell in Europe, will also update their American privacy policy as well.

    American consumers should be cheering the EU on. Instead I find people worried about how these massive corporations who evade tax, can possibly survive if they are not allowed to buy a relatively small company. Ridiculous.

    Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon et al are not going out of business any time soon and certainly not because the EU has fined them or has forced them to change their practices in order to benefit the consumer.

  3. Pbike908

    It's pretty simple...Since Nokia's implosion the only tech success in the EU is Spotify...and they aren't profitable...

    The EU announces investigations of tech companies not necessarily as a means to shut them down, but to serve notice to the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan, etc. that they better play ball with the EU or ELSE...

    That said, I have to agree with some of the EU's stances -- namely the right to be forgotten, cracking down on Apple's tax scam in Ireland, and perhaps a couple of others...

    Name me one other Big Industry in America that is taxed and regulated less than tech -- Amazon, Apple, Google, Air BNB, Uber, Lyft, Facebook, etc.

    On second though there are a couple that got spanked by the Feds -- AT&T, IBM, and MIcrosoft -- who have one thing in common and that is they fought the Feds!

    The newer companies figured out best to go along with the Feds, than fight the feds...

    We have alcohol taxes, gas taxes, cigarette taxes, marijuana taxes, gambling taxes, etc. in America. About the only industry without a "surcharge tax" of any consequence is Tech...with the exception of the infrastructure companies...

    Just saying...

  4. Nyghtfall

    Whenever the EU gets involved in anything tech-related here in the States, I'm reminded of Kelsey Grammer's character in Pentagon Wars yelling, "Goddammit! We fought a revolution so we wouldn't have to pay attention to the ****ing British!"

  5. lvthunder

    Apple is directly targeting everyone to join Apple Music. I mean that is the goal here right. I also can't see how Apple getting Shazam is going to hurt the streaming music competition. To me this is just the EU trying to hurt an American company by any means they can.

    • GarethB

      In reply to lvthunder:

      So.. you see Shazam offering links to content in Spotify and GPM into the future?

      Apple routinely locks down services to only it's platform, I don't see why an integrated Shazam would be treated differently.

  6. davidblouin

    In business , you gotta spend money to make money.

    In civil service,  you gotta spend your entire budget to get a bigger budget the next year.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to davidblouin:

      Don't kid yourself, "you gotta spend your entire budget to get a bigger budget the next year" applies at least as much in business.

      • davidblouin

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        But it doesn't involve tax payer's money...

        • MikeGalos

          In reply to davidblouin:


          That isn't what you were pointing out.

          • davidblouin

            In reply to MikeGalos:

            Maybe i didn't express myself correctly and i beg pardon for that, English is not my first language, but what i was trying to imply is that business spend their hard earn cash to make more hard earn cash, while bureaucrats just spend, spend and spend some more of our hard earn cash.

            • MikeGalos

              In reply to davidblouin:

              And you'd still be incorrect.

              Business is concerned with profit.

              Government is concerned with effectiveness.

              Business is rewarded by how much money they make off their budget

              Government is rewarded by how much of their policy goals were met with their budget

              Both spend all their budget. To do anything less meant either they didn't make as much money as possible or they didn't get as much of their policy accomplished.

              • davidblouin

                In reply to davidblouin:

                Government is concerned with effectiveness.

                Ok i'm gonna stop this conversation right there since you are clearly living in some fantasy world where bureaucrats actually cares where every tax payer's cent goes...

  7. Igor Engelen

    Sometimes I'm not proud of being European and I honestly hate the European commission.

    If Apple want to spend their money on Shazam, let them have it. It can only improve the experience I'm paying for.