European regulators will launch an in-depth investigation of Apple’s planned $400m purchase of Shazam, the music recognition app developed in the UK.
The European Commission said an initial probe found Apple may encourage Shazam users to switch to its own music streaming service following a takeover.
Apple Music has about half as many paid subscribers as Spotify, the world’s biggest streaming platform.
Apple said in December that it intended to buy Shazam.
The deal would be the iPhone maker’s biggest acquisition since it bought Beats, the headphone maker and music streaming service, for $3bn in 2014. That takeover saw Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine join Apple Music as a senior executive.
Shazam lets users identify song titles and artists with their smartphone. The app already presents users with links to Apple’s iTunes download store to buy songs.
Links to the iPhone maker’s music download service generates revenues for Shazam, along with advertising.
The app can also be used to find out more information about television programmes.
The Commission now has 90 working days to decide whether to approve the deal.
Although it does not consider Shazam to be a “key entry point” for music streaming services, the Commission will consider whether Apple Music’s competitors would be harmed if Apple discontinued referrals from the Shazam app to them after a takeover.
Spotify subscribers, for instance, can have songs identified on Shazam automatically added to a playlist in the streaming app.
The most Shazamed song – which has been identified more than 23 million times – is Wake Me Up by Avicii, the Swedish DJ and producer who died in Oman on Friday while on holiday.
Shazam was founded in 2002 and is led by executive chairman Andrew Fisher and Rich Riley, who joined in 2013 as chief executive.