Apple’s acquisition of Shazam under antitrust investigation

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

Apple’s acquisition of Shazam is now under investigation by antitrust regulators in Europe.

The European Commission is concerned that the deal will give Apple an unfair advantage in stealing users from its rivals. It has promised to provide a decision by September 4.

Apple confirmed its plan to buy Shazam, the service that identifies music when you hold your phone up to a speaker, last December. It did not confirm how much it would pay for the British company, but reports suggested it would be coughing up around $400 million.

An acquisition of that size doesn’t typically spark an antitrust investigation, but because of the popularity of Shazam and the amount of data it holds, regulators are worried that Apple could end up with an unfair advantage.

Apple’s bid to buy Shazam hits a bad note

“Access to such data could allow Apple to directly target its competitors’ customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music,” the European Commission said on Monday. “As a result, competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage.”

The investigation also hopes to determine whether rival music services, such as Spotify, will be harmed if Apple decides to stop referring users to them from the Shazam app, Reuters reports.

Apple could impose its own restrictions to appease regulators, like promising fair access to the Shazam app. Until the investigation is concluded, it’s not clear whether its promises would help. The EU has set a deadline of September 4 for its decision.

The investigation comes after seven European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden, lodged complaints with regulators.