How Tile Can Avoid Being A Footnote In History

With the release of Apple AirTag, Tile is under pressure as evidenced by them being vocal about wanting “fair” competition and going to congress to complain about it. That pressure is being driven by the size of their network which is meant to help you to find your stuff when you lose it. It is a drop in the bucket when compared to every Apple device on the planet which totals about a billion devices. Which means that if you want to find your stuff, Tile can’t help you with that. This was reinforced by an experiment that I wrote about yesterday where the Apple AirTag was found within minutes and the Tile was never found. And further reinforced by this video done by Zone Of Tech who conducted a comparison of Apple AirTag, Samsung SmartTag, and Tile. Tile largely came out on the wrong end of that comparison as well. Specifically Tile was only found once in their experiment while the other trackers were found frequently during their experiment. That highlighted that there’s basically three silos when it comes to the tracking device space:

  • Tile who clearly doesn’t have a big network of devices to help you to find your stuff.
  • Samsung who has a much bigger network made up of Samsung devices.
  • Apple who has a huge network made up of Apple devices.

Now Tile did cut a deal with Amazon to try and expand their ability to find stuff, just like they cut a deal with Google for the same reason. But that really isn’t going help them to compete with Apple, or Samsung for that matter. So the question is, how does Tile quickly increase the size of their network so that they can be a player in a market that until very recently they’ve dominated?

My suggestion is this: If I were CJ Prober who is the CEO of Tile, I would sell the company to Google. Then Google should promptly integrate Tile functionality into Android so that it has the same scale in terms of finding things based on the fact that there are maybe a billion or more Android devices out there. That would instantly make Tile a competitor against Apple and Samsung as this functionality is built into Apple’s OSes as well as Samsung devices which instantly makes their respective tracking devices very useful. One other thing that I would note is that Google in this scenario should also keep the Tile iOS app. That way they don’t orphan the Tile users are who are on iOS, and it insulates them from any potential anti-trust issues. That wouldn’t be unusual for Google as they already do something like this with WearOS.

The fact is that there is zero chance that Tile can grow their network on their own to the scale that they need it to get to so that they can go up against Apple and Samsung in some meaningful way. In fact I fully expect that if Tile does nothing, they will lose market share to both Apple and Samsung. And if Tile joins the Find My network that is run by Apple, seeing as they’re presently not part of it, the Tile network will likely shrink anyway. So Tile’s best shot is to sell themselves to Google as quickly as possible. I say quickly because you have to believe that Google is working on a Tile like product to compete with Apple and Samsung. I base that on the fact that it is rumored that Google is looking to put an ultra wide band chip into their next Pixel phone. Samsung and Apple have those chips in their latest phones which helps their trackers to work better. Thus it makes sense that Google must also be working on a tracking product of some sort and buying Tile would save them a whole lot of time and effort. And time is not on Tile’s side because if Google ships that tracking product and that phone, then you might as well stick a fork in Tile because they will be done.

Thus in light of the above, CJ Prober should get on the phone with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai ASAP and play a game of Let’s Make A Deal. Because quite frankly, it’s Tile’s only chance for survival as I cannot see any other scenario where Tile survives in the long term.

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