One eighth of the world's pop. can ping the location of an Apple AirTag

"The AirTag may be the most well-planned and executed location beacon ever made." -- Alan Truly

From ScreenRant's "Why Apple Might Have Already Won 2021 With AirTag" posted Friday:

apple airtags world pop pingApple's newest category of products is an iPhone accessory called AirTag and this tiny location beacon may end up having one of the biggest impacts of the year. With nearly one billion Apple devices worldwide capable of accessing the Find My network, these top-quality, yet inexpensive key, luggage, and bag trackers seem likely to dominate the U.S. market in 2021, and should eventually prove just as popular worldwide.

The AirTag may be the most well-planned and executed location beacon ever made. Part of that is due to the huge number of the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and Apple Watch Series 6 owners that comprise the Find My network. With over an eighth of the world’s population carrying devices that can anonymously ping an AirTag and send an encrypted transmission of its location back to the owner, the ease and accuracy of finding an item almost anywhere in the world is astounding.

My take: These little things are going to be a big hit.

33 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Since Apple uses ultra-wideband (UWB) for Precision Finding, it outperforms older trackers that rely on Bluetooth.”

    I received all kinds of inquiries from my friends wanting to use the AirTags for tracking things “far” beyond what Apple designed the tags to track. Hunters are wanting to track their dogs. Below is a response I just sent to several hunters along with the article by Alan Truly. Is my response spot-on? Correct me if I need correcting. I am attempting to answer many folk’s questions on how to use Air Tags beyond keys, glasses & luggage.

    “…. It’s UWB, not Bluetooth. Got that corrected now. Unlike the GPS where you input the coordinates and go there, the ping comes from other Apple & smartphone devices nearby (600 feet or 2 football fields) on what you are tracking and sends that pinged location “encrypted” back to your tracking device (iPhone). Lost dog? Yes, one could track a lost dog but will know within two football fields where the dog is located. Once you get to that location geographically, then the Air Tag tracker is ‘precision’ to take you to the dog. Lost dog in the city? Yes! Lost hunting dog in woods? Not so much unless many hunters are carrying smartphones on them.”

    23
    April 25, 2021
    • John Konopka said:
      I think you are over optimistic about the range. MacRumors put the range of BT at 100 meters. Seems to me it is less than that, depending on what kind of walls, wires and such are blocking the signal.

      For tracking a child I thought I read that Apple recommends an Apple Watch. Might work for the dog as well. Get one with a cellular plan so it can work in the woods with no other iPhones around.

      https://youtu.be/fEePCsp-GaQ

      13
      April 25, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      Spitballing here…
      For hunting dogs, maybe there will be an iPhone 12 Mini or SE also attached to the dog (iPhone AirFetch ™ ) that will provide a beacon and Find My Network connection that extends the local search range for the AirTag’s UWB for a pack of dogs.

      This similarly could be used for any manner of groups of things IF used for actual tracking – rideshare eBikes fleets, select parcel shipping without barcode scanning, even tracking football, soccer and basketball player movement in real time. The mind boggles.

      8
      April 26, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Apple will almost certainly sell several million AirTag beacons in 2021.”

    Oh so wrong!!! Based on the interest and on the inquiries about the AirTags that I am getting from people, Apple definitely will sell tens of millions if not a 100 million plus this year alone.

    24
    April 25, 2021
  3. Horace Dediu said:
    I’m expecting the limit of 16 AirTags per account to increase.

    28
    April 25, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      Yes. No doubt the limit of 16 is Apple’s attempt to keep a lid on initial demand, to prevent delivery dates from extending out many months. But I suspect delivery dates to push far out into the future anyway…

      16
      April 25, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        A limit of 16 units tells me Apple has extreme production capacity, and they don’t want people buying, just to resale at a profit.

        Just guessing now, but if Apple is limiting sales to 16 it is expecting tremendous demand, and that makes Kirk’s full year estimate very doable.

        Then there is this thought: if Tile fails after the Air Tag launch, would it be because Apple denied them access to the Apple Store, or was it because the Air Tag was so much more attractive to iPhone users?

        I think there is a bit of truth to the former (anti-trust violation?) but that will be overwhelmed by the dramatically better performance and feature set of the Air Tag.

        Tile currently has a monopoly on tags, but that is soon to be broken by Air Tags that will go on to become a monopoly.

        Simply put, Tile can’t compete because it simply has no control over the many variations of Android hardware, or the Android OS itself. In other words, Tile doesn’t control the stack, whereas Apple does. Controlling the stack leads to better functionality and that is not a violation of anti-trust laws.

        15
        April 25, 2021
        • Kirk DeBernardi said:
          @ Gregg Thurman —

          That wasn’t even a first year sales estimate. It was actually meant to say that eventually maybe a third of a billion users (and I know there’s more than that by now) would EVENTUALLY get at least one AirTag.

          So let’s take a third of THAT number to come closer to what a first year’s sales target might be:

          333,333,333 / 3 = 111,111,111 x $29 = $3,222,222,219

          Not too shabby, eh?

          Subsequently, multiplicity of purchase will surely be driven by the discovery of utility from that first AirTag usage and take at least a few years to pan out to extended multiples of that first year.

          10
          April 26, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        With launch just in time as a low cost Christmas Sock stuffer!

        Followed by Asian Lunar New Year’s celebrations.

        16
        April 25, 2021
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          How many hand bags, brief cases and clothing items are going to be redesigned to accommodate Air Tags?

          15
          April 25, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I think AAPL price targets will be adjusted upwards based on Q2 results and the new revenue stream that Air Tags represent, once WS gets its head around Air Tag capabilities and the vast appeal/desire those capabilities will generate.

      15
      April 25, 2021
  4. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    When humanity returns to the Moon, AurTags will be there.

    24
    April 25, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      And it better be within range of the only iPhone up there.

      14
      April 25, 2021
      • Bart Yee said:
        Oh, it can easily be envisioned that an Apple geosynchronous Moon satellite network with long range radio, 5G, local wifi, and beamed power could be in place in 10 years or less, mirroring the same around Earth.

        8
        April 26, 2021
  5. Fred Stein said:
    Huge? OMG Yes !

    And this is just the 1.0 product. Imagine where Apple, and 3rd party developers may take this.

    AirTags may at last (after decades of visionary speculation) give us a true IoT device.

    15
    April 25, 2021
  6. Fred Stein said:
    Can’t wait to hear Tim report AirTag sales next week.

    Shop for champagne.

    15
    April 25, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Fred Stein: I believe the quick path to $150 (my long held TP by 5/01) 6 more market days is for Tim & Luca to give strong, solid guidance & bright rosy outlook for coming quarters. WS needs to hear that from Tim & Luca & the stock price will gallop to $150. 🙂

      13
      April 25, 2021
  7. Gregg Thurman said:
    Luggage.

    Ohmygod yes (remembering my experience with lost luggage from several years ago on a trip to England), and wearing the same clothes until I bought another set.

    15
    April 25, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Greg Yes!! Frequent Flyers will definitely flock to AirTags to ensure their luggage gets found. No more relying solely on scanned barcodes from airport baggage systems or airline personnel. As long as someone with an iPhone or maybe another AirTag gets within range, a location ping is made, even in the aircraft cargo hold or metal cargo container.

      7
      April 26, 2021
  8. Gregg Thurman said:
    Given the expected life of the Air Tad I would expect sales to flatten (decline?) after about 7 or 8 years.

    How many will be sewn into children’s winter coats?

    14
    April 25, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Gregg Thurman: “…. Given the expected life of the Air Tad I would expect sales to flatten (decline?) after about 7 or 8 years.”

      Gregg T, I believe that in the tech world that 7 or 8 years is a life time. By the end of that period the current Air Tags will become relics and more unique, new and innovative ones will be available that will be compacted with exponentially higher technology and precision range. Think of the Air Pods with how each new generation is perfected and designed more compactly. The same will happen with Air Tags. So, this is an accessory item that will bring in a significant amount of incremental revenue for Apple for many years to come.

      15
      April 25, 2021
  9. Jerry Doyle said:
    I’m reminded of what Kirk DeBernardi, FOB, wrote the other day: “…. Suppose a third of a billion iPhone owners buy one AirTag — 333,333,333 x $29 = $9,666,666,657. Bada-Bing!”

    Well, I believe that number above will be reached the first year of release, because many folk are buying the packets of 4.

    15
    April 25, 2021
  10. Adam Foster said:
    Spent over $600 on Fri AM… been waiting a long time for these – I wanna put one in every farm vehicle, tractor, implement & truck and give one to all employees for their key chains – I already gave them all my old apple stuff! Scary!

    16
    April 25, 2021
  11. Michael Goldfeder said:
    As Gene Munster said: “A billion here, a billion there, it all adds up.” He might have to update that comment to state: “Ten billion here, ten billion there, it all adds up to phenomenal growth for a company of Apple’s size.”

    16
    April 25, 2021
  12. Hap Allen said:
    I suspect we will all way underestimate the appeal — not to mention the applications –of AirTags.

    Tom Rush on the subject:

    16
    April 25, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Boy can I relate to that.

      15
      April 25, 2021
  13. John Konopka said:
    Apart from the Apple aspect of this, it is astounding that as individuals we can tap into a network of a billion devices to help us track things across the world. Mind boggling. Does this confound the flat earthers?

    I want to test this out. I want to mail one to a relative across the country and see how well it tracks. That would be awesome to see it pop up from time to time till it arrives at the destination.

    16
    April 25, 2021
  14. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Interesting how there isn’t a hole on the AirTag for the obviously overt keychain application that many YouTubers continue to point out.

    Alas…think different.

    It’s obviously meant to be the most simple iteration of a tracking device. No more, no less.

    Then a secondary robust marketplace grows from all the notions of “iterations of attachment” all the way up to the inclusion of “spaces” built into worthy things to incorporate an AirTag.

    Eventually an everyday ecosystem, if you will.

    (Sound familiar?)

    11
    April 26, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Kirk The genius here is that Apple didn’t just build the AirTag hardware and its own accessories, it’s invited (again) a whole new (and old) slew of accessories makers where creative and capitalistic juices can flow. Sharing this with other suppliers just broadens the appeal of Apple users’ self-expression through AirTags. It’s amazing that essentially a quiet, inert, passive device from a user interaction standpoint till needed could become perhaps more ubiquitous than the entire installed user base.

      And we’re not yet talking about the resale and reuse market for used AirTags that will surely develop within a few years. Wonder if Samsung’s Smart Tags will suffer the same price erosion / depreciation as their smartphones, tablets and smartwatches??

      7
      April 26, 2021
  15. Bart Yee said:
    Considering AirTags is a hardware accessory, it would be lumped into the Wearables , Home and Accessories reporting segment. The WHA segment is already larger than Mac and iPad, and has creeped up from 78 (2020 Q1) to 82% (2021 Q1) of Services in the holiday quarters and rivals Mac and iPad and about 50% of services in seasonal quarters.

    AirTags will be a nice incremental driver for WHA revenue and gross margins.

    7
    April 26, 2021

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