European Regulators Concerned Apple's Proposed Shazam Acquisition Could Hurt Competitors Like Spotify

The European Commission today announced it has opened an in-depth investigation into Apple's proposed acquisition of Shazam.


The regulators are concerned that the merger could reduce choice for users of streaming music services in Europe. In particular, they believe that Apple could gain access to sensitive data that could allow Apple to directly target its competitors' customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music.

While the European Commission did not name any specific services, Apple Music's biggest rival in Europe is Spotify, headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Other competitors include Deezer, Tidal, and Google Play Music.

European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager:

The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services. 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.

In addition, the European Commission said it will investigate whether Apple Music's competitors would be harmed if Apple were to discontinue referrals from the Shazam app to them following the acquisition. Shazam's app currently integrates with multiple services, including Spotify and Deezer.

The regulators have set a September 4, 2018 deadline to reach a decision, delaying an Apple-Shazam merger for at least 90 days.

Apple announced its plans to acquire Shazam in December, describing the two companies as a "natural fit" with "exciting plans" ahead. In February, the European Commission received requests from Austria, France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain, and Sweden to assess the deal under European merger law.

Shazam is a popular service that can identify the name and lyrics of songs, music videos, TV shows, and more. It has apps across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, iMessage, and Mac, while the service has been built into Siri since iOS 8.

Top Rated Comments

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33 months ago

So, Apple will have to promise to continue to allow Shazam to list other streaming services when it makes referrals. They'll probably agree to that. Now, if they could just force Apple to allow the Homepod to use other services.

They should have zero control over that. Apple manufactures and sells its Homepod and has a right to limit its streaming services to Apple Music only.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago

allow Apple to directly target its competitors' customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music.

The horror! A company trying to convince users of a competing product to switch to its own! We cannot allow that!
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago

So, Apple will have to promise to continue to allow Shazam to list other streaming services when it makes referrals. They'll probably agree to that. Now, if they could just force Apple to allow the Homepod to use other services.

Don’t understand how anyone is forcing Apple to do anything. If Spotify wants to make a Spotify speaker, are they going to be forced to support Apple Music?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
I don't understand how this is a problem. Shazam isn't a streaming service; it simply identifies songs. I guess Apple could engineer it so that it displayed songs only on Apple Music and tried to steer users to buy it if they don't already have Apple Music. But I'm sure in that case another app would come along to fill in the gaps.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
It almost sounds as though they don't actually understand what Shazam is. Like they're assuming it's another music streaming service.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago

I don't understand how this is a problem. Shazam isn't a streaming service; it simply identifies songs. I guess Apple could engineer it so that it displayed songs only on Apple Music and tried to steer users to buy it if they don't already have Apple Music. But I'm sure in that case another app would come along to fill in the gaps.

Exactly.

It is up to the customers who they pick as their streaming service. This complain doesn't make sense.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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