EU Opens In-Depth Probe Into Apple’s Shazam Buy

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Competition officials fear Apple could use data from Shazam to place rival streaming services at a ‘competitive disadvantage’

The European Union (EU) on Monday opened an in-depth competition investigation into Apple’s takeover of British music identification service Shazam, meaning a delay for the $400 million (£287m) deal, which was announced in December.

Competition officials said they were concerned Apple could gain access to commercially sensitive information about users of streaming services that compete with Apple Music, potentially allowing it to target those users and persuade them to switch to Apple.

The investigation is also to look into whether competitors would be harmed if Shazam stopped sending referrals to them.

“The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services,” said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “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.”

Unfair advantage?

The competition commission said it feared Apple could use Shazam data to “directly target its competitors’ customers”, placing rivals at a “competitive disadvantage”.

The Shazam app identifies songs captured by the microphone of a device or computer, then refers users to services such as Apple Music or Spotify where they can listen to the tune.

Shazam is one of Apple’s largest-ever acquisitions, and its biggest since the takeover of Beats Electronics for $3bn in 2014.

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