When rumor first surfaced a couple of years ago that Apple was working on a Bluetooth tracker gadget, I wasn’t sure what to make of them. Companies such as Tile and Adero were already making such gizmos, which you fasten to possessions to help you find them in the event they’re misplaced. And they were having enough trouble scaling the idea up into a viable business that they were pivoting away from being purely about finding lost stuff.
If small outfits found the category to be limiting, why would it interest Apple, a company that’s hardly interested in pursuing niches?
I didn’t fully grasp Apple’s thinking until Apple Engineering Program Manager Carolyn Wolfman-Estrada introduced the $29 AirTag last Tuesday during the company’s “Spring Loaded” event. She called it “a new iPhone accessory,” and suddenly, I understood.
To Apple, stuff-tracking is not a business unto itself. It’s just something new you can do with an iPhone. From both a business and technological standpoint, that sets the AirTag well apart from the likes of Tile.