It is not just today that the United States Congress has a real magnifying glass over the technological giants (Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, in particular) for suspicions that companies implement monopolistic practices in their forms of business, using their power to scant smaller manufacturers and maintain a kind of supreme power in the categories in which they operate.
It all started last week, when Sonos filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the Mountain View giant of stealing its connection technologies to use them in its line of smart speakers. As a result, the US Congress launched yet another investigation into monopolistic practices against technological giants, receiving testimonials from some smaller companies – including Tile, Basecamp, PopSockets and Sonos itself.
The idea is to hear from companies "the real costs of potential powerful monopolies," and Tile, in particular, has put forward very persuasive arguments regarding Apple's (supposedly) harmful practices in the fields in which it operates. Through its vice president and general counsel, Kirsten Daru, the company called for changes in antitrust policies, stating that it cannot compete with a company that dictates the rules for the entire segment.
Tile, for those who do not remember, is the manufacturer of those small Bluetooth trackers (image above) that, until recently, were sold in Apple stores. Everything has changed when developer Guilherme Rambo discovered the first signs that Apple would be developing a very similar device (but using a different technology, the ultra-wideband radio): right after the news, Apple stopped selling Tile products on its channels.
Daru cited this episode as one of the indications of monopolistic practices on the part of Apple, but it did not stop there. Tile's representative also complained about the fact that Apple does not allow other companies to take advantage of U1 chip and the radio broadcast of ultra-wide bands, and stated that the features of the Buscar app are very similar to those of the app itself Tile app – with the difference that one comes pre-installed on the iPhone and cannot be deleted, while the other needs to be downloaded and can be deleted at any time.
Tile also complained about changes implemented in iOS 13, which now reminds users to turn off location services (including those used by trackers) – while the Search app features are activated quickly and permanently with a simple adjustment that appears in the iPhone setup process.
CNBC reporter Kif Leswing brought an official response from Apple Tile's accusations. We translate the following arguments:
Apple builds its system hardware, software and apps to protect users' privacy and offer the best products and ecosystem in the world. Apple did not build a business model around knowing a user's location or their device.
When configuring a new device, the user can choose to turn on location services to help him find a lost device with Buscar, a widely used app since 2010. Consumers have full control over their location data, including the location of your devices. If a user does not want to use these features, there is a clear and easy to understand setting in which they can choose exactly which location services they want on or off.
On third-party apps, we created the App Store with two goals in mind: to make it a safe and reliable place for consumers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. We continuously work with developers and review their feedback on how to protect users' privacy while providing the tools they need to build the best experiences.
We are currently working with developers interested in enabling the “always allow” feature, so that this option appears at the time of configuration in a future software update.
It remains to be seen, now, what the Congress will think of Tile's statements and Apple's response. Let's wait.