Tile, which has dominated the Bluetooth tracker market for years, is reportedly acquired by family location sharing service Life360 in a deal valued at $ 205 million.
The acquisition comes as Tile faces increasing competition from some of the biggest tech companies, including Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Google.
These alternatives, led by Apple AirTag, owe their debt to Tile, whose relatively humble origins stem from a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013. Within a few years, Tile’s small Bluetooth trackers were being sold by large retailers and marketed as a way to protect people. valuables, keep track of pets, and prevent forgetful people from wasting time searching for lost items.
Tile has expanded its line of tracking products over the years and introduced a $ 30 per year subscription service called Tile Premium, which offers users battery replacements and smart alerts, among other advanced features. In addition to its stand-alone trackers, Tile has integrated its technology into over a million third-party devices, from phones and laptops to dog collars.
As successful as Tile has enjoyed over the years, growing competition from tech giants like Apple and Samsung has turned the space upside down. Samsung came on the scene first with its Galaxy SmartTag, but it was Apple and its $ 29 AirTag that kept people following. AirTags use bluetooth tracking similar to Tile, but add more accurate location services by pressing the ultra-broadband chip.
Another advantage that Apple enjoys over its competitors is an extensive Find My network. When one of the nearly one billion devices connected to Find My approaches a misplaced AirTag, the service transmits its last address to the appropriate AirTag owner. Tile relies on a similar network, but its some 35 million users blade compared to the billion people who help find lost AirTags.
While the location information sent to AirTag owners is anonymous and encrypted, these tiny trackers put Apple in the hot water to potentially allow attackers to track others without their consent. Measures are in place to prevent unwanted tracking, but in our tests, we have found they don’t do enough to alert users when a tag is unknowingly slipped into a bag, pocket or car.
Tile’s buyer, Life360, is a family safety app with a subscription service that allows family members to track each other’s movements and adds collision detection, online privacy monitoring and emergency assistance. Created after Hurricane Katrina, Life360 is used by 31 million people, according to the company.
By purchasing Tile, Life360 will welcome new subscribers, bringing its total paid base to 1.6 million. Tile is not the only one contributing to the growth of Life360; the company started its buying frenzy by buying Jiobit, which makes cell trackers for pets and children. Life360 is buying brands to expand into more categories so people can use its service to track or find just about anything.
One can’t help but wonder what impact Apple had after introducing its popular AirTag tracker earlier this year. As Apple planted a flag in what was once Tile’s territory, Life360 said it welcomes competition. Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360, immediately recognized the elephant in the piece, writing in a blog post, “… we believe the launch of Apple AirTags is the tipping point where all the devices you care about will become location-enabled. “
He then compares the emergence of AirTags to the release of AirPods, which popularized truly wireless headphones years after the first products hit the scene.
“From our own experience as a pioneer of the location sharing category (we were the very first location sharing app in the market), we saw how the launch of Find My Friends generalized our category: we recorded triple-digit growth rates after Apple entered our space, ”Hulls wrote.
The Tile acquisition is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022. Tile will continue to operate independently with the same team and under the same brand.