Apple has bought Shazam, a music discovery app that can recognise a song just by hearing it. This move by Apple is being considered as a push in the company’s efforts in the music world as well as in artificial intelligence. According to a report in TechCrunch, Apple has acquired Shazam mobile application for $400 million. While the number may seem big for a music app, it is interesting to note that Shazam was valued at $1 billion in its last funding round. But for a while now, the company has reportedly been finding it difficult to make the business viable. The Shazam app was launched in 1999. It claims that over 1 billion people all over the world have downloaded the application and used it to identify songs for more than 30 billion times.
Shazam was one of the first few apps where artificial intelligence was being used by the masses. Apple, which is facing tough competition from other tech giants like Google, would want the deal to add maximum value in its products. Analysts all over the world believe that Shazam will see a decent value addition in its products, but the biggest beneficiary will be Apple as the service will help its AI products like Siri get even smarter. In a statement, Shazam said, “we can’t imagine a better home for Shazam to enable us to continue innovating and delivering magic for our users”. It will be interesting to see what exactly Apple has planned for its users with Shazam.
Music has always been one of the key parts of Apple’s business, from the iPod to the HomePod. In a press release, Apple noted: “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.” The acquisition is also in line with the company’s interest in augmented reality. Shazam, apart from being an audio recognition technology, has also invested in visual recognition. The app can also scan codes to display digital content.
What Shazam brings to the Apple table
Shazam, in its new home, can become more than just a song naming app. It could make Apple Music recommend songs to the users as well. Spotify, which is ahead of Apple in the music streaming segment, had acquired The Echo Nest in 2014. This had led to a technology that generated music suggestions. Shazam could well be Apple’s effort to counter that. Music industry analyst Mark Mulligan says in a blog post, “Now, Apple will be hoping that Shazam will provide it with the tools to start playing catch up. And that’s not even mentioning the user acquisition potential Shazam could have when it switches to exclusively pointing to Apple Music. Game on.”
In its good days, Shazam was a hugely popular app due to its novel technology. However, it no longer features in the top lists on Google play store and Apple app store. Shazam was later integrated into the iPhone which also reduced the app usage, analysts believe. Additionally, more and more people had started to go for streaming music rather than downloading them. This had also resulted in reduced usage of Shazam and also Apple iTunes store. Hence it is expected that Apple is planning to invest in something more than just the “name-the-tune” app. After all, Google Pixel phone anyway have a better music recognition software.