Finally, Tile is giving people what they want. The company announced today that it’s releasing two new Bluetooth trackers that feature replaceable coin cell batteries. Users will be able to swap their batteries out instead of having to replace the tracker entirely. Along with that change, the company is announcing a new subscription service called Tile Premium that’ll cover the cost of replacement batteries and include some other new features.
The revamped Tile Mate and Tile Pro replace the prior models, so every Tile sold now, apart from the Slim, features the replaceable battery. Batteries should last a year before needing to be swapped. Other hardware changes include a longer range — the Mate now extends to 150 feet, up from 100 feet before, and the Pro reaches 300 feet compared to the previous 200 feet — as well as louder ringers.
Tile’s chief experience officer Simon Fleming-Wood tells me the company isn’t worried about losing money from this change, even if people aren’t buying trackers from them with as much frequency. Instead, he and the company think people will actually stay in the Tile ecosystem for longer and be more open to buying trackers for everything if they don’t need to keep buying new ones. “Ultimately, will more people stay Tile users longer, and if they do, will they buy more Tiles or gift more Tiles?” he asks. “The thinking and hope is people will feel liberated to put Tiles on more stuff when there’s not an annual price tag associated with it.”
The Tile Mate costs $25 and the Pro costs $35. They’re available today through a bunch of retailers including Tile.com, Best Buy, Amazon, and Target.
The company’s probably not too worried about money because of its new subscription plan. Tile Premium costs $29.99 a year or $2.99 a month and covers an unlimited number of Tiles. With it, users will receive six new features: battery replacements annually; access to a 30-day location history of each Tile; an extended three-year warranty; a new, exclusive customer service line; unlimited Tile sharing so multiple users can view the same Tile-tracked item; and smart alerts that’ll remind users if they’ve left home without a specific item. Users can sign up through their iOS app or the Tile website. An Android version is coming soon.
I’m surprised Tile’s introducing replaceable batteries, but at the same time, it makes sense for the company at this moment. It’s been expanding its tracking platform to products outside of its immediate purview through partnerships with companies like Comcast, Bose, and Southwest Airlines. Tile’s seemingly focused on building a mesh network for finding items that could eventually be licensed out to other companies. It’s obvious Tile has a bigger plan for Bluetooth tracking than just selling trackers, and this battery replacement decision is the first obvious indicator that repetitive tracker purchases aren’t completely necessary to the company’s survival.