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.”