Tile Says Apple Changed iOS to Harm Its Business

Posted on May 29, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, iOS, Mobile with 7 Comments

In a new complaint to EU antitrust regulators, Tile alleges that Apple changed iOS specifically to harm it as Apple preps to release a competing tracker.

“In the past twelve months, Apple has taken several steps to completely disadvantage Tile, including by making it more difficult for consumers to use our products and services,” Tile general counsel Kirsten Daru writes to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in the letter, which has been viewed by the Financial Times. “This is particularly concerning because Apple’s actions come at the same time that Apple both launched a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile and also began preparing for the launch of a competitive hardware product.”

Tile makes a Bluetooth-based family of hardware tracking devices that helps its customers find keys, phones, computers, and other objects to which they are attached. But Apple is getting ready to enter this market with its own tracker hardware.

Its complaints to the EU mirror earlier complaints that it made to US antitrust regulators, and they also mirror other complaints against Apple, including those by Spotify. In this case, Tile notes that Apple made it more difficult for iPhone users to grant permission to tracker solutions like Tile’s while changing the default setting to its own FindMy app to “always allow.” It also triggers multiple permission reminders for third-party solutions, which Tiles accurately says “denigrates the user experience, creates consumer frustration and undermines the integrity of our product.”

Furthermore, Tiles says that Apple is artificially lowering the visibility of Tile in the Apple App Store and that it terminated its agreement to sell Tile’s popular hardware devices through its retail and online stores.

Apple feigned outrage at the curiously familiar charges.

“We strenuously deny the allegations of uncompetitive behavior that Tile is waging against us,” an Apple statement says. “Consistent with the critical path we’ve been on for over a decade, last year we introduced further privacy protections that safeguard user location data. Tile doesn’t like those decisions so instead of arguing the issue on its merits, they’ve instead decided to launch meritless attacks.”

The EU, meanwhile, simply says that its investigation of Apple’s “alleged anti-competitive practices through its App Store policies is ongoing” and has no further comment.

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