European Union hits pause on Apple's Shazam purchase

Shazam is set to be bought by Apple

Shazam is set to be bought by Apple

Europe's competition chief has put the brakes on Apple's takeover of Shazam, the British music technology company, saying that rivals to Apple's music streaming service could be harmed.

The Shazam app uses the microphone on a smartphone or computer to identify nearly any song playing nearby, then points users to places they can listen to it, such as Apple Music or Spotify Ltd.

The probe comes after the Commission said earlier this year it would either approve or investigate the deal by today, after receiving requests from member countries - including Austria - to look into the takeover due to competition concerns. TechCrunch, which was first to report the acquisition talks, pegged the price at around $400 million. "The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services", said commissioner Margrethe Vestager in the release.

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Apple reportedly paid $400M for Shazam, which uses a phone or computer mic to identify songs playing nearby then points the user towards a streaming service with the song.

Apple's acquisition of Shazam has caught the attention of the European Commission, and not in a good way, with an in-depth investigation being opened over whether it harmfully impacts user choice.

Shazam is also valuable to Apple for reasons apart from music.

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It's unclear what the worry is here, as Apple doesn't dominate digital music anymore and music identification capabilities are fairly common. The company has developed a "visual Shazam" augmented reality service, which can identify posters, ads and other products.

The commission is particularly concerned that Apple will be able to access "commercially sensitive data" from Shazam customers who also use rival music services, which Apple might use to its advantage. Apple has invested deeply into adding augmented reality capabilities to the iPhone and other products.

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