Apple’s Acquisition of Shazam is About More Than Music
It was reported late last week and then subsequently confirmed by multiple consumer tech publications that Apple reached an agreement with music recognition platform Shazam to acquire the company. The deal, first reported (and then confirmed) by TechCrunch, is in the $400 million ballpark, which is a significant discount from the $1 billion that the company was valued at during its most recent round of funding in 2015.
Shazam, a U.K.-based company that got its start as a texting service in the pre-app days, has established itself as, by-far, the most popular song identification platform. In 2016, the company reported that it had topped 1 billion downloads. It also reportedly continues to send about 1 million clicks per day to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and other music services.
The latter factoid there is the obvious play here for Apple. People are familiar with the Shazam name, and they’re using it to identify songs and then go and download them from iTunes or find more from the artist on Apple Music.
“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple,” an Apple spokesperson told The Verge. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement."
Those plans could, obviously, involve deeper integration of Shazam’s services into iOS (similar to what Google has with its Pixel device). Though not confirmed, Apple could, in theory, kill the Shazam app, which would immediately take away a those 1 million clicks per day the company reported sending other streaming services.
But this is a play that has more implications that identifying one’s favorite song with extra help from Siri.
Shazam users—and even moviegoers who pay attention to those pre-credits advertisements—probably know that in recent years the company has branched out beyond its musical roots. In 2015, the company debuted visual recognition that allowed users to scan things like magazine pages, and posters to bring to life interactive off-the-page content and special offers (a la Layar).
Since then, Shazam upped its visual offerings with AR-enabled features that promise to “bring any marketing materials to life.” The Shazam codes can be found on things like packages, physical objects, advertisements, and more. The AR content, according to Shazam, features things like 3D animations, games, and product visualizations.
The point here is that Apple can take what Shazam has built and use it as it looks to further develop products like ARKit, potentially bringing to iOS a feature similar to what Pixel users have with Google Lens—a computer vision system that lets users point their camera at a product and get information on what it is they’re looking at.