updated 10:08 am EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Clears major legal obstacle
The European Commission has authorized Apple's $3 billion takeover of Beats, according to an official statement. The organization was tasked with scrutinizing any possible antitrust concerns in the deal. In its judgment, the Commission notes that while both Apple and Beats sell headphones in Europe, even their combined marketshare is low, and the companies aren't in close competition. Their headphones are said to "differ markedly in functionality and design."
Regarding Beats Music, the Commission says it's unconcerned. "The Commission concluded that Apple faces several competitors in the [European Economic Area] such as Spotify and Deezer, making it implausible that the acquisition of a smaller streaming service that is not active in the EEA would lead to anticompetitive effects," it writes. It adds that the acquisition shouldn't give Apple the ability or incentive to exclude competing streaming services from iOS.
A European greenlight removes a major obstacle for the merger. The deal is still waiting on approval in the US, but that's generally expected to go through, especially since Apple has made an unusual concession. Differing from many of its buyouts, Apple has agreed to keep Beats Music available for platforms like Android and Windows Phone, which would effectively make them its first apps for platforms outside of iOS, OS X, or Windows. The buyout should be approved or rejected by the end of September, if not sooner.