Apple/Shazam: Data Is Power, But Not A Problem Here

December 2018

CPI EU News Column edited by Thibault Schrepel, Sam Sadden & Jan Roth (CPI) presents:

Apple/Shazam: Data Is Power, But Not A Problem Here By Nicolo Zingales (Sussex Law School)1

Introduction

Is there a significant impediment to effective competition where a major provider of music streaming services acquires a leading application for automatic music recognition, particularly insofar as the latter enables the identification and targeting of users of competing streaming apps? In Apple/Shazam,2 the European Commission answered this question in the negative, considering several ways in which the data collected through that application could lead to a competitive advantage. The Decision constitutes an important addition to the series of EU merger cases involving the use of customers’ personal data,3 as distinct from broader “big data” concerns.4

Facts

On March 14, 2018, the Commission received the notification of a concentration that would result in Apple’s acquisition of Shazam, a developer and distributor of music recognition apps for smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. The notification followed a referral pursuant to a request made on December 21, 2017 by the Austrian competition authority, to whom the acquisition was notified on December 12, 2017; competition authorities of seven more EEA Member States subsequently joined the request. On April 23, 2018, the Commission opened a Phase II investigation due to two distinct non-horizontal and…

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