Apple will be unveiling its next-generation iOS software in June at its WWDC conference for developers, and it seems music identification may be on the agenda for iOS 8.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Apple is working with Shazam on baking its technology into the new software, including integrating it with voice-control system Siri. “An iPhone user will be able to say something like ‘what song is playing’ to find out the tune’s details,” as one of Bloomberg’s sources puts it.

Naturally, nobody’s commenting on the record to confirm the rumour. Needless to say, this would be huge news for Shazam, which currently has more than 86m monthly active users tagging averaging 17m tags a day – a figure that includes TV shows and ads as well as music.

The company has always made a habit of launching on as many platforms as possible – it’s available on Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry as well as iOS, even if it’s iOS and Android that have likely been driving its business most in recent times. A deal with Apple, which sold 153.4m iPhones and 74.2m iPads in the 2013 calendar year alone, could be a big boost for Shazam usage.

There are plenty of questions sparked by such a partnership, though. Would it also include the Auto Shazam feature, running in the background of iOS to identity every possible song, TV show and ad heard/watched by the user?

That data would certainly be an interesting addition to Apple’s business, from its advertising ambitions to its need to provide better content recommendations through iTunes. But if Apple is serious about this kind of technology and sees value in Shazam, would it not make more sense to buy the company? That could channel its innovation towards iOS while retaining a firehose of data from its users on other platforms.

As we’ve watched Shazam evolve from a pure music identification app to something sitting in between the music, TV and advertising worlds in recent years, we’ve always thought that its eventual exit may come in a bidding war between Apple, Google and perhaps other internet giants (Facebook? Amazon?) too, rather than an IPO.

Music identification technology hasn’t quite been commoditised yet – it’s far from trivial to do it well – but with much more competition than there used to be, it’s the shift to a deeper understanding of people’s media habits that could be really valuable for Shazam. And, indeed, Apple – either as a partner or an acquirer.

At a $500m valuation from its last funding round earlier this year, Shazam may still look a bargain.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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