Apple's new item-tracking AirTags should be investigated by Congress, competitor Tile argues
Tilesays that Apple's new tracking devices, called AirTags, should be investigated in Congress.
- Tile has previously accused Apple of anti-competitive business practices.
- The AirTags were announced today after years of speculation about the Apple product.
Apple's new AirTags product, an external tracking device that hooks on to keys, luggage, and more, is already drawing criticism from competitors.
Tile, a company founded in 2012 that makes wireless Bluetooth trackers to attach to keys, phones, and wallets, wrote to Congress to say that Apple should be investigated for anti-competitive behavior.
In a statement to Insider, Tile said it welcomes "fair competition." But "given Apple's well documented history of using its platform advantage to unfairly limit competition for its products, we're skeptical. And given our prior history with Apple, we think it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a closer look at Apple's business practices specific to its entry into this category."
Tile's general counsel Kristen Daru will testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in an antitrust hearing focusing on Apple and Google's App Store on Wednesday.
This isn't the first complaint Tile has made against Apple for alleged anti-competitive behavior. In a 2020 Congressional hearing, Daru testified about Apple's iOS 13 system, which introduced a Find My app and changed permissions for users to access Tile devices. The testimony also mentioned rumors of a "Tile-like" product in the works at Apple.
Speculation around AirTags grew greater last year, when Apple reportedly uploaded and then removed a video mentioning the product.
Apple responded to Tile's call for investigation by saying that it had piloted Find My prior to Tile's founding and that its App Store had contributed to the growth of Tile and other apps. The company also stressed Tile's current market dominance. In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said: "We have always embraced competition as the best way to drive great experiences for our customers, and we have worked hard to build a platform in iOS that enables third-party developers to thrive."
Read the full statement from Tile below:
"Our mission is to solve the everyday pain point of finding lost and misplaced things and we are flattered to see Apple, one of the most valuable companies in the world, enter and validate the category Tile pioneered.
The reason so many people turn to Tile to locate their lost or misplaced items is because of the differentiated value we offer our consumers. In addition to providing an industry leading set of features via our app that works with iOS and Android devices, our service is seamlessly integrated with all major voice assistants, including Alexa and Google. And with form factors for every use case and many different styles at affordable prices, there is a Tile for everyone.
Tile has also successfully partnered with top brands like HP, Intel, Skullcandy, and fitbit to enable our finding technology in mass market consumer categories like laptops, earbuds, and wearables. With over 30 partners, we look forward to extending the benefits of Tile to millions of customers and enabling an experience that helps you keep track of all your important belongings.
We welcome competition, as long as it is fair competition. Unfortunately, given Apple's well documented history of using its platform advantage to unfairly limit competition for its products, we're skeptical. And given our prior history with Apple, we think it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a closer look at Apple's business practices specific to its entry into this category. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further in front of Congress tomorrow."
Read the full statement from Apple below:
"We have worked from the very beginning of iPhone to help protect the privacy of users' location data, giving them transparency and control over how all apps may access and share their location. Apple created Find My over a decade ago to help users locate and manage lost devices in a private and secure way. Since then, we have expanded Find My to help users keep tabs on the other important things in their life - from sharing location with friends and family members, to locating third-party products like Van Moof bikes and Chipolo item finders. We have always embraced competition as the best way to drive great experiences for our customers, and we have worked hard to build a platform in iOS that enables third-party developers to thrive."
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