I thought Apple AirTags were a waste of money, but now I've bought one. Here’s why

When it comes to Apple AirTags, it’s not about the price. It’s about time

Apple AirTag
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple’s AirTags are clearly God’s way of telling you that you have too much money. £29/$29/AU$45 for a tracker that you can’t attach to anything on its own? Another £29/$29/AU$45 for a special key ring so you can attach it to your stuff? And a Hermès version that costs £399/$449/AU$449? Pah! Also, pfft!

That’s what I thought, and then I ordered one.

I was standing in the street in the pouring rain, my handbag open on the boot of my car as I searched every inch of it for the third time in the hope of finding the car keys I already knew weren’t there. “I should have bought an AirTag,” I thought as raindrops the size of golf balls went down the back of my neck. And, some time and many expletives later, that’s exactly what I did.

What I realised as I stood swearing in the rain was that Apple isn’t selling a tracker. It’s selling minutes.

It’s selling 20 minutes of being toasty in the car, not cursing my carelessness as I riffle through my handbag in the rain.

It’s selling 10 more minutes of great chat in a venue instead of rushing around convinced that my bag’s been nicked with everything in it.

It’s selling five minutes of me not being furious at the kids because I totally put the flat keys there and they’re not there and I didn’t move them so nobody’s getting pancakes if they don’t tell me what they’ve done with them RIGHT NOW.

All that, and you can get a unicorn engraved on it.

Apple AirTags: more tracker, less trauma

A lot of the commentary on AirTags has concentrated on the devices and their cost. But what’s important here – and what Apple’s selling – isn’t really a bit of hardware. Apple is selling the sizzle, not the sausage. And that sizzle is the promise of less trauma, of fewer panicky searches when you’re already running late, of fewer sharp words spoiling your big night out. 

Once that’s got into your head and you then do misplace your bag, or your keys, or your seven-year-old, AirTags become an easy sell.

Are they overpriced? I don’t think so, not particularly. I still think it’s a bit rich expecting you to pay extra so you can actually attach your AirTag to anything, and I think anyone who buys an Hermès keyring needs their head or at least their tax returns examined. 

But while I think Apple’s AirTag accessories are overpriced, I think the same about its iPhone and Apple Watch accessories. You’re buying these things to be seen with the brand, to engage in a bit of conspicuous consumption, and there are plenty of third parties happy to offer the same functions for a lot less cash – just as there are third party alternatives to Apple’s AirTag and Find My network.

13-odd years ago I remember scoffing at another newly announced Apple product that was clearly God’s way of telling you you have too much money. £381 (approx. AU$700) for a phone that doesn’t even have 3G? Pah! Also, pfft!

That’s what I thought, and then I ordered one.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).