London: Apple Inc. agreed to acquire music-identification service Shazam, taking ownership of one of the first apps to demonstrate the power of the iPhone, recognizing songs after hearing just a few bars of a tune.

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users," Apple said an emailed statement on Monday. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement."

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but TechCrunch last week reported the business was valued at about $400 million. That price would be a disappointment for some of Shazam Entertainment Ltd.’s investors, who had valued the company at about $1 billion when it closed its last funding round in 2015.

The Shazam app uses the microphone on a smartphone or computer to identify almost any song playing nearby, then points users to places they can listen to it in future, such as Apple Music or Google’s YouTube.

While Shazam has been popular with customers, it struggled turning its clever music service into a business that justified its valuation. It expanded beyond simple audio recognition in 2010 by adding capabilities that let television viewers “Shazam" an ad, which would then open a promotion from the advertiser on a user’s device. The company said this feature was used 700,000 times during the 2014 Super Bowl broadcast.

In November, Shazam had about 175 million monthly active users globally across iOS and Android, according to research firm App Annie. The U.S. is the largest single market, with about 20 million active users in November, while the U.K. had about 4 million in the same month.

“Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple also said. “Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms."

The acquisition would help Apple embed that capability more deeply into its music offerings. The company’s digital assistant Siri gained Shazam integration in 2014, so users could ask it what song is playing in the background. Reuters

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