Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers.

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Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is disadvantaged on Apple's platform. Prober said that while Tile "welcomes competition," he doesn't feel that Apple is being fair.

Tile welcomes competition. We've been competing for 8 years with small companies to Fortune 50 companies, so we welcome competition from Apple, but we think it needs to be fair.

Prober claims that when Apple "launched" ‌Find My‌ in 2019, there were changes to iOS that made it harder for Tile to operate. Apple did release a unified ‌Find My‌ app in 2019, but has long had ‌Find My‌ iPhone and ‌Find My‌ Mac apps for devices.

If you look at the history between Tile and Apple, we had a very symbiotic relationship. They sold Tile in their stores, we were highlighted at WWDC 2019, and then they launched Find My in 2019, and right when they launched their Find My app, which is effectively a competitor of Tile, they made a number of changes to their OS that made it very difficult for our customers to enable Tile. And then once they got it enabled, they started showing notifications that basically made it seem like Tile was broken.

Prober is talking about changes that Apple made to location services permissions. For privacy purposes, Apple stopped making it easy for apps to get permanent access to a user's location. Apps in iOS 13 were not initially allowed to present an "Always Allow" option when requesting location access, and the feature had to be enabled in the Settings app. Apple also started sending regular reminders to customers letting them know their location was being used.

Tile was not happy with these privacy changes and that privacy tweak set Tile against Apple, with Tile in 2019 calling on Congress to "level the playing field."

Prober said that Apple has now launched a Tile competitor that has access to platform capabilities that Tile cannot access, referencing seamless activation and Ultra Wideband technology.

The main points of differentiation of AirTags vis a vis Tile are enabled by platform capabilities that we don't have access to.

Apple has, in fact, launched the ‌Find My‌ network that gives third-party accessories some of the same access that AirTags have, and ‌Find My‌ network accessories will be able to access the U1 chip in the ‌iPhone‌ 11 and 12 models much like the AirTags, but Tile won't be able to use the ‌Find My‌ network unless it abandons its own app and infrastructure, which it is likely unwilling to do.

Prober said that Tile has been "seeking to access" the U1 chip since its introduction in the ‌iPhone‌, and has been denied.

It's too early to tell whether Tile's sales will be impacted by AirTag, but Prober says that Tile is "well-positioned" with a "super differentiated product" that's available across platform and in many form factors. He suggested Tile has several benefits over AirTags.

We have many form factors. You don't need an accessory to attach it to your things. We're louder, we've got better range. So we have a lot going for us. We feel good about our competitive position, but we don't feel like we should be competing in the way we are with Apple. This is much broader than Tile, this is about long term consumer choice, innovation thriving, and lower prices. That's why we're being so vocal about this.

According to Prober, Apple could take the advantages that it has on its platform and make them available to everyone for a more level competitive playing field. He called for legislation to allow for innovation and competition. "We should be competing fairly and no excessive taxes on developers," he said.

Prober's full interview can be watched over at Bloomberg.

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Top Rated Comments

IAmGLaDOS Avatar
42 months ago
My God. They literally have access to use the Find My network. What more do they want Apple to do?
Score: 68 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LawJolla Avatar
42 months ago
Many of you fall for the illusion of competition. There's no competition. It's predatory.

Tile has a non choice. It can keep its own network and stay off Find My. But Apple won't give Tile the keys to have their network be as robust as Find My. E.g., they could figure out a solution to extend the iPhone/BluetoothLE pings for Tile's network, but they wont.

So then Tile's forced off their network onto Find My. But once on Find My, Apple products are again privileged with special abilities.

I'm not arguing Tile on the merits. Maybe it's the best product on Earth, maybe it's the worst. I don't care. The point is they can't build the best product because of Apple's 3rd party restrictions.

And if your response is "if you don't like it, go build your own cell phone company!", that argument is reductionist and absurd.

I love Apple as much as the next, but they are behaving as a cartel.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Serban55 Avatar
42 months ago
Apple opened the find my network...what more do you want to be fair?? For apple to make you a revolutionary product like iphone??
U1 chip? maybe you want the entire Apple company...
Stop crying...you HAD the TIME to bring something until now...you didnt..now you cry because Apple is coming with some useful device for the ecosystem ?
Jesus, no one is growing up these days ?! Samsung is crying, Tile is crying...Microsoft and Intel makes childish ads..
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
countryside Avatar
42 months ago
I am getting sick and tired of this entitlement from these developers. I am very scared that the precious walled garden I love is going away soon... not good. :(
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macsplusmacs Avatar
42 months ago
Fair = giving Tile all the same advantages and still whining to the press for marketing purposes.


Follow the money... Tile subscriptions will decrease.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G5isAlive Avatar
42 months ago
I don't know about whether Apple has an unfair competitive advantage or not. What I do know is I was an earlier adopter of Tiles and gave up on them after poor performance issues and how it interfered with my regular bluetooth operations. So for me, Tile competed against itself, and lost. I picked up some airtags and much prefer them. So I see why Tile is scared. Stop giving money to lawyers Tile, start investing in making a better product.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)