Apple has the green light to proceed with its acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music from the European Commission. Both companies do indeed sell headphones in the EU, which is part of the motivation behind the scrutiny, but Apple and Beats don’t hold a sizeable combined market share of the headphone category in Europe, the Commission determined, and the types of hardware they sell is too varied to be considered closely competitive.
The Commission also determined that while both Apple and Beats are active in the digital music category, Beats still isn’t active in Europe, and even were it to make Beats available it wouldn’t mean that Apple would shut out other services (including Spotify and Deezer mentioned by name) from participating in a freely competitive market.
Apple still needs approval to go ahead with the deal in the U.S., but that’s expected to come through for similar reasons that the deal was accepted in the Europe. Once it goes through, that means Apple gets to deal with the new suit levied against Beats by Bose, which is now accusing the fellow headphone maker of infringing upon its noise cancelling headphone technology patents.