Tile takes complaints about Apple to the EU Commission

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Tile trackers help find lost dogs.
Apple is accused to making Tile trackers harder to use as it prepares to launch a competing product.
Photo: Tile

Tile, a startup that makes location-aware tracking tags, told the European Commission’s Competition department that Apple isn’t playing fair. It claims the iPhone maker has moved to “completely disadvantage” its smaller rival, even as Apple prepares to launch its own tracking tags.

The accessory maker told the U.S. government the same thing earlier this year.

Tile claims Apple is anticompetitive

A letter sent on Tuesday by Tile to E.U. competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says, “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,” according to Financial Times.

Among Tiles’s complaints is that third-party applications’ geolocation services are off by default, while Apple’s own “Find My” app has these services on by default.

Plus, the letter sent to the EU points out that the Apple Store stopped selling Tile products, allegedly to get ready for the release of Apple’s own AirTags. These are tracking tags that will compete head-to-head with Tile products.

Apple responded forcefully. “We strenuously deny the allegations of uncompetitive behaviour that Tile is waging against us,” the company wrote in a statement to Financial Times. “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.”

EU already probes Apple’s business practices

Tile asked the European Commission to look into how Apple competes against its rivals. The EU competition commission is already in the middle of a formal investigation into Apple’s business practices as a result of complaints from Spotify, the music-streaming company.

As its name suggestions, the commission is the EU’s chief body charged with enforcing its rules on competition. It has the power to levy fines against companies it decides are breaking those rules. Fines can be as much as 10% of a company’s annual revenue.