Potentially bad news for Spotify as EU approves Apple’s planned acquisition of Shazam

As expected, the European Union antitrust regulators have officially approved Apple’s planned acquisition of Shazam, the British music discovery app, for a reported $400 million.

Following its initial assessment of the acquisition, EU regulators have conducted their own investigation after initially appearing worried that the deal might hurt competition. Yesterday, the investigation concluded that the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple would not harm or reduce competition in the digital music streaming market.

“After thoroughly analyzing Shazam’s user and music data, we found the acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, in a prepared statement.

She took the stance that access to Shazam’s data would not materially increase Apple’s ability to target music lovers. Any conduct aimed at making users switch “would only have a negligible impact” without shutting Apple’s rivals out of the market.

“Data is key in the digital economy. We must therefore carefully review transactions which lead to the acquisition of important sets of data, including potentially commercially sensitive ones,” Vestager added. I beg to differ. While the deal won’t reduce choice for the consumer, Apple’s targeting ability will improve by virtue of merging Shazam and Apple Music data, that much is certain.

Shazam is all about songs people like but don’t recall the names of. Apple Music, on the other hand, is about the tunes we already know and love. Merging the two data sets will give Apple better knowledge of our musical tastes.

The iPhone maker announced the deal last December.

Shazam can also recognize content based on images taken with the app

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users,” Apple said at the time. “We have exciting plans in store and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular iOS apps. The media identification app is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms.

Apple’s been using Shazam’s backend since iOS 8 to have Siri identify songs playing around the user (“Hey Siri, what’s this song?”). Shazam apps continue to be offered across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, iMessage and Mac. The software supports Apple Music and includes augmented reality features for finding content based on pictures captured with the app.