This was rumoured last month, but now the European Commission has confirmed its approval of Apple’s acquisition of music-identification firm Shazam, on the grounds that it won’t have any negative effects on competition.
“Data is key in the digital economy. We must therefore carefully review transactions which lead to the acquisition of important sets of data, including potentially commercially sensitive ones, to ensure they do not restrict competition,” said competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “After thoroughly analysing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market.”
The EC provided more detail on its thinking, ruling that “access to Shazam’s data would not materially increase Apple’s ability to target music enthusiasts and any conduct aimed at making customers switch would only have a negligible impact” and noting that Shazam “has a limited importance as an entry point to the music streaming services of Apple Music’s competitors” – so even if Shazam axes links to those rivals, they won’t be particularly harmed. Also: “Shazam’s data is not unique and Apple’s competitors would still have the opportunity to access and use similar databases”. The EC’s investigation was the last regulatory barrier to the acquisition going through.