It feels like it's been a long time since I have been nervous for an Apple product to launch. Heck, I don't know if there ever was a time I was nervous for a product to launch, but AirTags have me nervous? Why would a simple tracker be causing me so many stomach-twisting thoughts? Well, I decided to wait for AirTags instead of buying a Tile, so for me, it's personal.
Okay, putting aside the very real (actually fake) drama of it all, I feel like I have a bit of a personal stake in AirTags as a product because I believed in them as soon as I heard of them. I am a very forgetful person — I misplace my keys, wallet, and phone daily. It gets very frustrating. I am the type of person who needs a Bluetooth tracker.
Early last year, I was all set to buy a couple of Tile trackers. After all, Tile makes some of the best Bluetooth trackers you can buy right now, and suddenly, AirTags rumors were starting to heat up. And, not in a small way because early last year was thought to be the original launch date. I was immediately swayed to stop my purchase and wait a couple of months to see what Apple came out with.
Well, a couple of months went by, and then another couple, and then another, and another — don't I look stupid now? Here I am still waiting for AirTags, and now because I've waited so long, it feels like buying a Tile would be admitting defeat. But, I'm very hopeful that all my waiting won't be in vain — here's why.
Apple's perfection method
Apple often isn't the first player to the ball diamond when launching new categories of products. Apple likes to see what the competition does, perfect the product, make it fit seamlessly into its ecosystem, and then release it like it's the best thing since sliced bread. Joking aside, this approach has been a staple of Apple's strategy (whether they admit to it or not) for many years.
The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, the AirPods weren't the first wireless earbuds, and the Apple Watch wasn't the first smartwatch. Yet, all of those products became insanely popular. You can be cynical and say it's all the "Apple sheep" that mindless buy anything the company puts out, but the reality is that they are great products, and in a lot of ways, better than the competition.
It's this approach that gives me so much hope for AirTags. Tile and Chipolo have been the biggest names in Bluetooth trackers for a while now, and now is the time for Apple to do what it does best — blow the competition out of the water.
AirTags should integrate into the Find My app by all accounts, which offers a whole slew of benefits to Apple users that Tile trackers just can't. Imagine being able to ping your wallet or keys right from your Apple Watch like you can ping your iPhone? I think it's a genuine possibility that AirTags will do just that. Like my colleague Bryan has said, AirTags need to be better than Tiles, otherwise, what's the point?.
My biggest worry: the Apple tax
By now, we all know the Apple tax exists. Apple makes a lot of premium products and expects customers to pay the price for them. The AirPods Max is a recent example. They are damn beautiful headphones that sound incredible, but they are more expensive than similar offerings for other companies. But, in the end, the AirPods Max is meant for a certain type of customer, and when you're in the market for high-end headphones, you know that things can get pricey. But Apple could find some success if they released a less expensive version of AirPods Max, so who knows?
The thing is, it's entirely possible that AirTags could be and should be the cheapest mainline Apple product you can buy. If you look at the competition, you'll notice that Bluetooth trackers aren't a costly product. A Tile Pro goes for around $35 (and often goes on sale), and you can get a Chipolo ONE for about $25. These aren't expensive products, and if the Apple Tax is too high, it will really turn some people off — myself included.
If AirTags start pushing $50 for a single tracker, they better have a lot more functionality than the competition, or the minute AirTags are announced, I'm buying some Tile trackers.
The ball is in Apple's court
If Apple and I were playing Poker, they would be laughing at my horrible tell because they have me hook, line, and sinker when it comes to AirTags.
I've been waiting for so long to buy these things and my expectations are very high. I want to be proven right when Apple finally announces AirTags, and I want all that waiting to mean something.
Hopefully, we get an announcement soon. That way, for better or worse, I can finally put this decision to rest.