Apple is making another big play to bolster its music services with the acquisition of Shazam. According to TechCrunch, Apple is nearing an agreement to buy the popular music-recognition app in a nine-figure deal that could be valued around $400 million.
Shazam is a veteran of the first dotcom boom, dating back to 1999. Its free apps can identify an artist or song with a tap and a few seconds of listening, but in recent years the app has expanded into recognition of movies and TV shows, ads, and more to generate relevant search results. There's also a My Shazam tab in the app to see a list of all your songs, integrated directly with Apple services including iTunes and Apple Music , as well as Spotify.
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Shazam's Discover tab also helps you build a Spotify-like taste profile and follow famous people to see what they're listening to. The company also has a paid, ad-free version of the app called Shazam Encore.
An acquisition would give Apple an app that has more than a billion downloads (as of September 2016) but has struggled as of late to turn its user numbers into revenue.
As for what Apple might do with Shazam, there are a number of possibilities. Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats formed the foundation of what is now Apple Music. Shazam already integrates with Siri, but the acquisition gives Apple a path to deeper personalized recommendations through the virtual assistant integrated with Apple Music. Given Google's recent announcement of a new YouTube Music service set to launch this coming March, this deal would serve as a fitting response.
Shazam has also experimented with a business-facing augmented reality product for visual brand recognition, which fits nicely as a potential monetization angle for Apple's ARKit-driven ambitions for smartphone-based AR, which may or may not include AR 3D sensors in future iPhones. For now these potential integration strategies are all speculation, but there's one question iOS users may soon be asking a lot more often: "Hey Siri, what song is playing right now?"