The European Union’s European Commission (EC) announced Monday an “in-depth investigation” of Apple’s deal to acquire Shazam. While acknowledging the two companies offer complementary services (music streaming and music identification), the EC identified two areas of concern. The first is the fear that Apple could get customer data from the deal allowing the company to target customers of other services. The second is the fear that other services would be at a disadvantage from not getting Shazam referrals.
In other words, it’s a farcical sham of an excuse to mess with Apple.
Here’s the relevant bit from the EC’s announcement:
At this stage, the Commission is concerned that, following the takeover of Shazam, Apple would obtain access to commercially sensitive data about customers of its competitors for the provision of music streaming services in the EEA. Access to such data could allow Apple to directly target its competitors’ customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music. As a result, competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage.
In addition, while at this stage the Commission does not consider Shazam as a key entry point for music streaming services, it will also further investigate whether Apple Music’s competitors would be harmed if Apple, after the transaction, were to discontinue referrals from the Shazam app to them.
EU, Shazam, and Eye-Rolling Nonsense
In general, I love how the EU looks after consumer interests ahead of corporate interests, at least compared to the U.S. That’s not to say that the EU is perfect, but the EC tends to do a better job of looking out for ordinary people than regulatory bodies in the U.S.
But this one…this one is just nonsense. Apple is the second place music streaming service, Shazam’s service is utterly complementary (meaning the acquisition won’t consolidate the market), and even the EC says Shazam “isn’t a key entry point for music streaming services.” And puhlease…Apple doesn’t need Shazam’s data to target consumers.
So. Why. Investigate. This. Deal. FFS?
There’s plenty to concern regulators around the world when it comes to U.S. and multinational tech giants, but this deal is not one of them. At all.
My assumption is the investigation will conclude that the investigation was a complete and total waste of time and taxpayer money, and if it doesn’t, I’m calling balderdash.