Apple’s acquisition of Shazam now in the hands of antitrust regulators

By

Shazam iPhone
Apple must wait for EU approval.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple has formerly requested approval for its Shazam acquisition from the European Commission.

EU antitrust regulators confirmed last month that they had launched an investigation into the deal following concerns from seven European countries. Apple will get a decision next month, but it may not be final.

When Apple confirmed rumors it was buying Shazam last December, few anticipated that it would attract the attention of antitrust authorities. But thanks to complaints from France, Italy, Spain, and others, Apple’s acquisition is now in the hands of the EU.

Apple will get a decision on April 23

Apple and Shazam, a British company, will get a decision on April 23, but it won’t necessarily be cut and dried.

“The Commission, which has previously expressed concerns about big companies acquiring small but data-rich rivals, can clear the deal with or without conditions or open a four-month long investigation,” Reuters explains.

Apple will be hoping for unconditional approval, of course — but there’s a chance the EU will say the deal can go ahead so long as certain restrictions are in place. There’s also a chance the deal will be postponed so that a more thorough investiation can take place.

Why do antitrust regulators care?

Shazam claims it is now one of the ten most popular apps in the world, but it isn’t exactly a mammoth company. Apple is expected to have paid $400 million for it, which, when compared to the $3 billion it spent on Beats — another music business — seems like pocket change.

So, why are antitrust regulators so concerned? It’s all about the data.

Apple already possesses data on millions of its own customers, but its acquision of Shazam comes with a great deal more. Shazam is also hugely popular on third-party platforms like Android, so Apple will end up with the data on all those users, too.

And once that data is in Apple’s hands, it may not be available to others. Shazam has been sharing it with the music industry to provide an insight into our listening habits — and many companies rely on it. There’s no guarantee that Apple would allow that to continue.

This investigation is more than just a formality, then. Although it seems unlikely, there is a chance the EU will block the deal.