Cupertino, California-based tech giant Apple has never been shy about acquiring talent through brand takeovers. The company has made it a policy of buying up small businesses that pair well with its internally developed product lines and services. Even their trademark Siri was originally developed by an outside company, Siri Inc, and was only purchased and adopted by Apple in 2010. Other acquisitions include Novauris and their speech recognition software, Beats Electronics, and Emagic, a music software company whose designs led to the development of GarageBand. Apple is set to acquire another powerhouse property early next year, though what they’ll do with their acquisition is anyone’s guess.
With the release of the iTunes store in 2003, Apple Inc. set the standard for purchasing music online. Since then, however, competing stores like Amazon or music streaming programs like Pandora and Spotify have taken some of the novelty away from Apple’s own music distribution platform. Next year may see a return to dominance for the company, as they are set to acquire British app company Shazam.
Founded in 1999, Shazam achieved real prominence in 2008 when it began releasing an increasingly sophisticated line of music apps, initially for Apple phones but later expanding to Android. The company’s key feature is its titular app’s ability to identify songs, along with movies and television shows, via an audio clip.
While details have been kept behind closed doors, the deal is reportedly costing Apple around $400 million. Given Shazam’s popularity, having reached well over one billion downloads in its life cycle, it’s clearly a win for Apple to have exclusive control over the property. Furthermore, Shazam’s developments extend well beyond the world of music. The app company began investing in augmented reality (AR) technology earlier this year, built on the back of image recognition tech it developed back in 2015. Their AR tech has mostly centered around branding and marketing, enabling users to scan promotional material like posters, advertisements, and magazines to launch interactive product demos, videos, and other content.
It is unclear if Apple will keep the Shazam name intact or kill the brand entirely to instead integrate their tech under the Apple banner. Either way, it is definitely a loss for competing platforms, though there are plenty of third-party developers with products that perform similarly to what Shazam has to offer. Either way, the acquisition is a financial win for Shazam, who reportedly lost $5.3 million in revenue last year.