Apple announced today that it has finished its $400 million acquisition of the music identification app Shazam. As part of that effort, Shazam will become an ad-free product from this point forward.
Shazam has been downloaded more than 1 billion times since its release, and it was one of the first apps available on the App Store when the iPhone debuted in 2007.
But for years prior to the advent of the smartphone, Shazam has been identifying songs just by listening to a small clip of the music that is playing. Revolutionary back then, and still pretty cool right now.
But even more importantly: all those recognitions carry serious strategic value. And for Apple, an ad-free Shazam spells a faster path towards better data, and tighter customer affinity.
Apple Music vice president Oliver Schusser commented positively on the acquisition saying, “with a shared love of music and innovation, we are thrilled to bring our teams together to provide users even more great ways to discover, experience and enjoy music.”
Shazam helps its users identify over 20 million songs per day, so that’s a lot of ad revenue that Apple is giving up in favor of a different strategy. Shazam will be ad-free on both iPhone and Android, though Android users have access to Google’s superior Sound Search.
But there’s serious competition ahead.
Google recently announced it has used machine learning and neural networks to assign each song a unique identifying fingerprint that can be identified very quickly. Better — it claims — than market leader Shazam.
This feature was one exclusive to Google’s range of Pixel devices that feature stock Android. But Google recently updated its Sound Search technology to use this unique method of fingerprinting songs.
Will Apple integrate Shazam into the Siri and iOS experience now that the music identification app sits under Apple’s umbrella?
Only time will tell. For now, enjoy ad-free music identification on both Apple and Android devices.
Shazam’s paid business model called Encore offers integration with the music streaming service Spotify. Perhaps that partnership will change to Apple Music — or at least gently persuade users to the ‘preferred platform’.