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EU launches “in-depth” investigation into Apple’s bid to buy Shazam

The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation into Apple’s proposed takeover of the British song identification app Shazam, citing concerns it could “reduce users’ choice of music streaming services”.

In press release published on Monday, the EU outlined two concerns about the potential acquisition. Its primary concern is that Shazam could give Apple “access to commercially sensitive data about customers of its competitors”, such as Spotify and Deezer, and encourage them to move to Apple Music.

Its second concern is that Apple may shut off referrals to other streaming services if the deal goes through, although it notes that it does not currently “consider Shazam as a key entry point” to such services.

“The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services,” said the commission’s competition chief 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.”

Many of Europe’s most promising firms have been snapped up by US tech giants in recent years, but Spotify is a notable exception. When the music streaming service launched its IPO last month, it was the biggest listing of any European tech firm in history. However, Apple’s ambitions in the space are well known and the company is gaining ground rapidly in the US, where it is on track to overtake Spotify in terms of subscribers this summer.

The commission now has until 4 September – 90 working days – to make a decision.

Apple has been reached for comment.