Should Apple acquire Shazam?

When you ask Siri "What song is playing?", you're actually talking to Shazam, one of the oldest services out there for mobile phones — it launched in 1999 (!). It's not just a long-running app, however: Shazam is also a superb service for audiovisual identification, and if this report from TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden and Katie Roof is correct, we may see it officially come under the Apple umbrella.

TechCrunch is currently reporting a potential deal in the nine-figure range (around $401 million) that could be signed by the weekend and officially announced Monday. While less than half of Shazam's official valuation, it's still a hefty chunk of change; that said, Apple isn't exactly hurting for cash at the moment.

But "can" is not the same as "should." Does it make sense for Apple to acquire Shazam, rather than continue to license its technology? After all, Shazam and Apple have been partners for several years — Shazam currently provides Siri with music identification powers. But pulling the app in-house could allow Apple to more thoroughly integrate Shazam's search technology with its products. Audio search is already a huge market for Apple with the Apple TV's voice commands, and I can see it further helping augment the device's capabilities as well as shoring up any HomePod deficiencies.

There's also the question of how the company's image recognition engine might benefit Apple's AR experience: In addition to its musical prowess, Shazam offers a QR-style "augmented experience" for partner brands. Though the technology itself isn't particularly wow-worthy, the engineering talent Apple might nab as part of the acquisition might be the real secret weapon here.

What do you think? Should Apple acquire Shazam, or forget about it?

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

14 Comments
  • Seems like the perfect time as Google has it on there new pixel phones. It works great.
  • On any phone with Google Assistant.
  • The Pixel 2 phones have an offline song recognition function that is limited to around 30,000 popular choons. It's not as sophisticated as Shazam and it's online library of millions of songs.
  • True but 99%of use cases are not done offline which is where Google Assistant performs very well with song id.
  • Admittedly as the article notes, you can actually ask Siri what song is playing without installing Shazam, Apple has already integrated Shazam. I guess acquiring them would give them extra functionality
  • I'm guessing that the appeal is with the ad revenue that Shazam can also generate (such as when an advert is playing and one can Shazam it to take one to the brand's website).
  • "Hey Siri, add that 80s song from this movie to my Retro Playlist." "Hey Siri, what was the name of that song in this car commercial?" "Hey Siri, play me something that sounds similar to this (plays some piano)."
  • I'm gonna miss spotify integration when Apple strips out everything that's not Apple Music.
  • That's my worry as well. At the moment Shazam links to multiple music services, it's unlikely that'll continue under Cupertino ownership.
  • Or someone else could buy it and take it out of Siri and Spotify.
  • Yea Apple will buy it pull it from the AppStore then integrate it into Siri or hide it in iTunes somewhere. Then they will see that its not what they want and pull it then bye bye Shazam. If anything they should have bought Hound. That 3rd party app is app is smart.
  • Shazam is already integrated into Siri, ask Siri "what is this song?"
  • There has got to be more to this than we know. Just too much money for something they already have through license and is somewhat peripheral anyway. Maybe Shazam was going to do something against Apple’s Interests?
  • Pretty obvious I thought?
    As of June 2017 Spotify has 60 million subscribers, Google Play Music has an unknown number of subscribers and Apple Music only has 27 million subscribers. Shazam has approx 120 million active users.
    1) Apple buy's Shazam, 2) Apple strips out Spotify and Google Play integration, and 3) suddenly those 120 million users are directed to iTunes and Apple Music not to their competitors platforms.
    This will of course be ameliorated by: : 4) An unknown number of those 120 million unsubscribe from Shazam and sign up to SoundHound so they can keep integration with their preferred music service. Count me among that group of unsubscribers.