Tile’s antitrust claims against Apple, which were first made in the United States, are now being enforced in Europe.
The smart tracker company claimed that Apple had acted anti-competitive by granting iOS different levels of access to Tile and Apple’s own tracker product, AirTag.
Apple’s AirTag has not yet been announced, but we first reported on its development over a year ago.
This new product is a tag that can be attached to any item – similar to other products like Tile. The tag is paired with a user’s iCloud account by being close to an iPhone like AirPods. Users can receive notifications when their device is too far from the day so they don’t forget the item the day is attached to. Certain locations can be added to a list of ignored locations so that the item can be left in those locations without notifying the user. A day’s location can also be shared with friends or family.
Users can save their contact information in the tag, which can be read by any Apple device when the tag is put into “lost mode”. The owner of the tag receives a notification when it is found. It seems that Apple wants to use the large number of active Apple devices to use this new hardware product to create a crowdsourcing network that helps its users find lost items.
Tile testified to Congress and declined Apple to give AirTag four iOS benefits over Tile:
- The Find My app cannot be deleted from iOS while Tile can
- Find My is set up during iPhone setup while Tile’s settings are buried in the Settings app
- AirTag can use the UWB radios in the iPhone 11, but Tile cannot
- The Tile app must regularly request further access to the location, but Find My does not
UWB radio access is particularly important as it automatically triggers warnings that a marked object has been left behind and provides extremely precise pointers to its position – down to centimeters.
Apple replied that it would work with third-party developers in terms of functionality, but Tile later said Apple had broken that promise.
Tile’s antitrust claims in Europe
The Financial Times reports that Tile has now filed the same complaints with European regulators.
In a letter to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday, California-based tracking app maker Tile argued that compared to Apple’s own FindMy competitor application, Apple made it more difficult for users to operate their product on their smartphones by using features selectively be disabled that enables a seamless user experience.
Tile, whose Bluetooth tracking technology enables users to find their keys, phones or other items, also asked the European Commission to conduct an investigation into Apple’s business practices […]
‘Over the past twelve months, Apple has taken several steps to fully penalize Tile, including making it more difficult for consumers to use our products and services,’ said Tile General Counsel Kirsten Daru in the letter to the Financial Times.
‘This is particularly worrying as Apple’s actions coincide with Apple’s launch of a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile, and are also preparing to launch a competitive hardware product,’ the letter added.
Apple has dismissed the claim and stated that it is consistent with its increasing focus on privacy.
We vigorously deny allegations of non-competitive behavior that Tile is waging against us. In line with the critical path we’ve been following for over a decade, we have introduced additional privacy measures in the past year to protect users’ location data. Tile doesn’t like these decisions. Instead of discussing the problem, they decided to launch unsubstantiated attacks.
The European Commission announced that it will continue its antitrust investigation against Apple and that it will respond to Tile’s letter ‘in due course.’