Apple allegedly abusing competition over tracking accessories, says Tile in letter to EU

Tile tracker
Tile tracker (Image credit: Tile)

What you need to know

  • Apple has been accused of abusing its power and favoring its own accessory in its products.
  • That's according to Tile, which makes tracking accessories.
  • The California company wrote a letter to Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner.

Accessory maker Tile has written a letter to the EU claiming that Apple is abusing its power and unfairly favoring its own products.

As reported by Financial Times:

In a letter sent to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday, California-based tracking app maker Tile argued that Apple was making it more difficult for users to operate its product on their smartphones compared to Apple's own rival application, FindMy, by selectively disabling features that allow for seamless user experience.

According to the report, Tile called for the EU to investigate Apple's business practices, something it has previously done in the U.S. also.

It seems Tile is concerned that "recent changes" to Apple's operating system have frustrated the Tile user experience for customers. The report further notes that Apple is rumored to be launching its own 'AirTags', a direct rival to Tile's own products.

In the letter, seen by FT, Tile's General Counsel reportedly said that Apple had taken "several steps to completely disadvantage Tile" in the past twelve months, making it harder for customers to use Tile's products and services. Tile also cited Apple's new FindMy app which competes directly, and further cited the preparation of Apple's "competitive hardware product."

Tile says that Apple's decision to default the 'always allow' permission for tracking apps to off is a hurdle to its user experience, as is the converse decision to default 'always allow' to 'on' for FindMy, Apple's own software. Tile further claims that its product is denied "equal placement" on the App Store and that Apple has terminated its agreement to sell Tile in its retail stores, likely in advance of the AirTags launch.

In a statement, Apple said:

"We strenuously deny the allegations of uncompetitive behavior that Tile is waging against us. 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 said that it would reply to Tile's letter in due course and that its preliminary investigation into Apple's alleged anti-competitive behavior was ongoing.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9