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Apple closes $400m Shazam takeover after six month EU investigation

After a six month investigation by European regulators, Apple has closed the second biggest takeover in its history: a $400m acquisition of the song recognition service Shazam.

In a statement, Oliver Schusser, the head of Apple Music, paid tribute to the two companies’ long partnership. “We are thrilled to bring our teams together to provide users even more great ways to discover, experience and enjoy music.”

Apple has vowed to remove all ads from the app, “so everyone can enjoy the best of Shazam without interruption”. The deal is second only to the iPhone-maker’s $3bn takeover of Beats in 2014.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU anti-trust commissioner regarded as one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful critics, launched a probe into the proposed takeover in February and an “in-depth investigation” in April.

Vestager had expressed concern about the prospect of Shazam shutting off referrals to other streaming services and providing Apple with access to commercially sensitive data about its rivals’ customers.

But in a statement issued earlier this month (6 Sept), the competition chief revealed that the merger had been granted unconditional approval.

Apple and Shazam have enjoyed a close working relationship for more than a decade. Shazam made one of the first apps for the iPhone and its technology has since been integrated into Apple’s Siri voice assistant.

The acquisition paves the way for Apple to now more deeply integrate Shazam’s technology into its operating systems and Apple Music service. Its data could be used to provide more accurate recommendations, for example.

Some commentators have speculated that Apple may seek to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors by forcing Shazam’s users to stream songs through Apple Music.

Since being founded in 1999, Shazam has become one of the UK’s most popular app-based tech platforms. It boasts more than 150 million users worldwide and has built a popular brand in the US in particular.

Apple Music’s American subscriber base overtook Spotify’s for the first time in July. The company’s executives will be hoping that the Shazam deal will now help it to take the top spot globally too.