European regulators said Monday that they're deepening their probe into Apple's acquisition of the music recognition app Shazam over concerns that the deal could limit people's streaming music choices and unfairly weaken companies such as Spotify.
The Shazam app uses the microphone on a smartphone or computer to identify nearly any song playing nearby, then points users to places they can listen to it, such as Apple Music or Spotify Ltd.
However, several EU countries, including Austria, France, and Italy, asked the European Commission in February to review the deal to ensure it didn't run afoul of regulatory requirements.
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Apple has yet to reveal any specific plans it has for Shazam, but the commission's concerns do not seem particularly farfetched, and they may have played a role in Apple's decision to buy the company. TechCrunch, which was first to report the acquisition talks, pegged the price at around $400 million. In other words, "competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage", the commission said in a statement. Apple is the second place music streaming services, 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". "Access to such data could allow Apple to directly target its competitors' customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music".
In the wake of that announcement, Shazam said it couldn't imagine a "better home" for its platform than Apple.
Apple launched its own streaming service called Apple Music in 2015, which has grown quickly.
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Apple didn't immediately reply to a request for comment about whether it would do any of those things.
Among other issues, Vestager's office also worries that Apple would get easy access to sensitive consumer data and lure customers from competitors to its own services.
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