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EU to probe Apple plan to buy music app Shazam

News Desk

Agence France-Presse

Brussels  /  Wed, February 7, 2018  /  03:00 pm
EU to probe Apple plan to buy music app Shazam

This file photo taken on Sept.22 shows an Apple logo on the outside of an Apple store in San Francisco, California. (AFP/Josh Edelson)

The European Union said on Tuesday it will probe tech giant Apple's plan to buy leading song recognition app Shazam because of fears the deal may "adversely affect competition."

Apple announced the deal with London-based Shazam, worth a reported $400 million, in December in a fresh bid to secure an edge in the intensifying battle of streaming services.

The European Commission said it launched the inquiry at the request of EU states Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, and non-EU Norway and Iceland, which form part of the affiliated European Economic Area.

"The commission considers that the transaction may have a signficant adverse effect on competition in the European Economic Area," it said in a statement.

The deal did not meet the "turnover thresholds" for the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm and anti-trust enforcer -- for Brussels to launch a probe by itself.

Read also: Apple plans combined iPhone, iPad & Mac apps to create one user experience

Instead it had to wait for Austria to lodge an initial request, which was followed by the other states.

Shazam, which was founded in 1999 in the early age of online music, has offered a solution to a longtime agony of listeners -- putting a name to elusive songs. With a click, the app identifies tracks playing on the radio, at parties or as background music.

But Shazam has struggled to find a way to make money off its technology, even as it said that it had reached one billion downloads on smartphones last year.

Shazam only recently announced it had become profitable, thanks to advertising and steering traffic to other sites such as Spotify and Apple Music.

The technology is also no longer quite as novel, with Shazam facing rivals such as SoundHound and with smartphones capable of ever more advanced recognition functions.