EU opens competition probe into Apple's bid for music app Shazam

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators opened an investigation on Monday into Apple’s bid for British music discovery app Shazam, concerned the deal might give the iPhone maker an unfair advantage in poaching users from its rivals.

Apple announced the deal in December to help it better compete with industry leader Spotify. Shazam lets users identify songs by pointing a smartphone at the audio source.

The European Commission said it was concerned about Apple’s access to data on Shazam’s users who use competing music streaming services in Europe.

“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,” the EU competition enforcer said.

The investigation will also examine whether Apple Music’s competitors would be harmed if Apple halted referrals from the Shazam app to them.

The Commission set a Sept. 4 deadline for its decision.

Apple could offer concessions such as a pledge to allow fair access to Shazam to address regulatory concerns.

The EU executive launched a preliminary review of the deal in February following a request from seven European countries including France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

Apple did not give a value for the deal when it announced it in December. Technology news website TechCrunch said at the time the price could be as much as $400 million, far short of the most recent $1 billion valuation for privately-held Shazam.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter