Shazam! Apple magically confirms it has already bought music-recognition app

12 Dec 2017363 Views

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Apple’s forthcoming HomePod smart speaker system. Image: pianodiaphragm/Shutterstock

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Apple is gathering the digital fabric it needs to begin designing the tactile home or car.

Apple has confirmed that it has acquired audio-recognition platform Shazam for around $400m, revealing that it has big plans in store.

This is just 2.8 times the amount of funding raised by UK-based Shazam, which two years ago was valued at $1bn.

‘We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement’
– APPLE

Either way, Apple could be on to a winner in terms of its plans for the AI-enabled digital home, as it prepares to take on players such as Amazon Echo and Google Home with its own Siri-based HomePod speaker system, due out in early 2018.

Big audio dynamite

The acquisition was just a rumour at the weekend but now it has been confirmed.

“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple,” the Cupertino tech giant stated.

“Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Shazam, which enables users to identify a song by just listening to a snippet of it, is a pioneer in audio identification and its app has been downloaded more than 1bn times.

“Shazam is one of the highest-rated apps in the world and loved by hundreds of millions of users, and we can’t imagine a better home for Shazam to enable us to continue innovating and delivering magic for our users,” Shazam said in a statement.

The move by Apple is actually quite inspired because it enables the tech giant to add sophisticated layers to its looming HomePod smart speaker system. It can now up the ante against Amazon and Google as well as rivals such as Spotify in terms of Apple Music.

Launched only two years ago to augment iTunes, Apple Music has 30m subscribers and is catching up fast on Spotify, which has 60m paying subscribers.

The key to the future of music is discovery and, in the new world of tactile interfaces using voice and hearing, Shazam could enable Apple to better compete against Spotify’s Echo Nest recommendation engine, for example.

The technology could play a key role in other devices, such as the Apple TV.

The acquisition of Shazam could also segue neatly into Apple’s plans for automotive technology in terms of in-car entertainment and the much-vaunted rumours of an Apple electric car due some time around 2020.

Either way, Apple’s puzzling but disciplined acquisition strategy is all part of laying out the digital fabric of the complex tapestry of services and experiences in a world where the keyboard or touchscreen will no longer be the primary interface.

Sounds like magic.

Apple’s forthcoming HomePod smart speaker system. Image: pianodiaphragm/Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com