EU regulators examining Beats deal for potential antitrust issues

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Is Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music a potential antitrust case? European Union antitrust regulators announced this morning that it will rule on whether or not to clear Apple’s Beats music bid by July 30.

It is hoped that the deal will help Apple gain the lead in the rapidly-growing and lucrative music streaming business. The European Commission has the power to either clear the Beats deal unconditionally, or else demand concessions if it sees competition issues.

Despite Beats’ prominent position as a headphone maker (and Apple’s prominent position as, well, Apple) the presence of other powerful streaming music companies like Spotify means that this ruling is likely a formality. Apple had better hope that no issues are raised, however — particularly given how much of a pain its problems related to its present eBooks antitrust suit have been.

It is still unknown which agency will review the sale in the U.S. Federal law states that Apple must report the deal to both the Federal Trade Commission and also the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, which then decide how to divvy up investigations between them.

Given that we still don’t know exactly what Apple intends to do with Beats, it would be interesting to know just how much info Apple has given to antitrust regulators!

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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