AirTags are the best thing to happen to tiles

on April 20 Apple blew the Tile business out of the water. The announcement of AirTags for Tile, which was founded in 2012, offered a direct competitor, if not better, for its flagship product line. Tile’s small trackers, which people attach to keys, bags and bikes, have been a huge hit, bringing in $40 million in investment last September and driving revenue up 50% in the first half of 2021.

However, when AirTags hit stores in May of this year, Tile CEO CJ Prober attacked his company’s huge new competitor. Prober claimed that Apple was an “unruly monopoly train,” adding that while Tile “welcomes competition from Apple,” it should be. Justice Competition.

Tile’s complaints range from how Apple restricted Tile’s access to the “Find My” network to the alleged deterioration of its previously close relationship — Tile trackers used to be available for purchase from the Apple Store, now they are not. As far as Prober was concerned, Apple was coming over for lunch. Six months later, Tile released its latest Mate, Pro, Sticker, and Slim trackers. Tile Ultra, the first ultra-wideband (UWB) tracker – the same “living room scale GPS” technology inside AirTags – is on its way early next year.

Apple’s entry often legitimizes a sector, just as it did with smartwatches. Has this happened with trackers now that they’ve jumped into this market? According to Prober, business is rosy. “We’ve sold over 40 million tiles. Revenue is up in the first half of the year. Third-party product activations, which is a big focus for us, we’re up over 200 percent year over year. Business is good.”

But the concern remains. Prober remains unhappy with Apple and says Apple’s actions have hurt his company in a way that is hard to take. “We’re seeing really strong business momentum – despite the unfair competition from Apple.” Prober notes that it wasn’t long ago that Tile products were purchased from the Apple Store. “And then, pretty quickly, we were kicked out of their stores. They implemented a number of changes to their platform that left our experience behind, as they were releasing their new Find My experience. Despite all of that, and despite Apple’s own preference, the work is fine. – But obviously it’s better if we compete fairly.”

Apple AirTags

Photo: Apple

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