European Union hits pause on Apple's Shazam purchase

European Union hits pause on Apple's Shazam purchase

Regulators also said they have concerns about Apple's gaining access to data on Shazam users and the competing music services they use.

The European Union's European Commission (EC) announced Monday an "in-depth investigation" of Apple's deal to acquire Shazam. With that data, the Commission posits, Apple might be able to directly target its competitors' customers and lure them over to Apple Music.

The probe will also look at whether Apple Music's competitors would be harmed if Apple stopped referrals from the Shazam app to them.

The European Commission is planning to conclude its investigation by September 4. Apple moved to close the deal back in March when the European Commission took control of the approval process, and a decision to OK the deal or launch an in-depth investigation was promised today.

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The biggest concern, however, appears to be the fact that the acquisition could give Apple access to data about its competitors' customers. The Shazam app, which has been downloaded more than a billion times, identifies music based on a short sample. Shazam offers the leading music recognition app for mobile devices in the European Economic Area (EEA) and worldwide. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has talked about data as a currency for free services and how smaller companies may struggle to compete with data-rich rivals. Shazam is based out of the UK. Shazam's main objective is to use the microphone on smartphones to listen to songs and provide valuable information to users, such as song title, artist and more. The proposed transaction was initially notified to Austria for regulatory clearance as the transaction did not meet the turnover thresholds of the EU Merger Regulation.

Broadcom and Qualcomm might not be the only companies to have a merger squashed due to anti-competitive fears from government officials.

Further information on the case will be made available on the Commission's competition website.

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