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Apple bans protective screen film from Apple Store

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
News Categories: iPod Accessories, Apple, iPad Accessories, iPhone Accessories

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Apple has banned protective screen film from its retail and online stores, iLounge has confirmed with several separate companies, a policy that will affect both cases and individual film packages beginning in May. In communications with vendors that have been ongoing for “some time now,” according to one company, Apple has said that it will remove both film-only solutions from its stores, as well as any case or other accessory that includes film protection as part of its package, such as cases that include film screen protectors. According to sources, the ban will impact all forms of screen film, including completely clear film, anti-glare film, and mirrored film, regardless of whether the purpose of the film is protective, decorative, or both. It will also prevent sales of film for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. One vendor speculated that the ban is an Apple marketing attempt to suggest screen durability, despite scratches that have damaged both plastic and glass displays of its products for years.

It is believed that Apple’s move will have ramifications for the accessory industry outside of its own stores, as the Apple Store constitutes a significant fraction of total sales for many developers, even though accessory manufacturers also sell their products through other channels. Despite consumer demand for film solutions, which are currently ranked the #1 most popular “cases” for both iPods and iPhones in the Apple Store, and the #6 and #7 most popular overall iPhone and iPod accessories, respectively, developers might not create separate versions of each case product, one without film for sale by Apple, and one with film for sale elsewhere. iLounge requested details on the change from leading film developer Power Support, which had no comment, as well as several case makers, who were aware of the new policy but had nothing to add. However, Mirage Mirror Screen Protector vendor XGear suggested that despite the Apple Store ban, its “marketing positioning will not change. This will open many new doors for us as we move forward in my opinion.”

iLounge has requested comment from Apple on this story and will update this article with additional details as they become known.

Update: We’ve posted responses to common reader comments on this story in a separate article.

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Comments

1

There’s something more than a “marketing ploy” afoot here. If the intent is for Apple to show off the durability of its i-Device screens, that doesn’t preclude their continuing to sell screen films to those who want them anyway (be they decorative or otherwise). The “real” reason is a mystery - while a case could be made regarding a film applied to the iPhone 3GS’ oleophobic screen coating, the rest of the product line shouldn’t be negatively affected by such an accessory.

It also remains to be seen if Apple will next deny warranty coverage to those who continue to purchase and install screen films from this point forward.

Posted by Herr Doktor on March 17, 2010 at 7:38 AM (PDT)

2

LOL! I’d be nuts to use my iPhone without a film protecting the screen. Yeah, it feels slightly better to me naked, but when I think about how often I clean the film, and what I use to clean it, I wouldn’t want to be treating the bare screen that way for the (short) life of the phone. The film goes on the day the phone arrives. (I’ve had them all.)

Guess I’ll be buying my protective films elsewhere.

Posted by Manatee on March 17, 2010 at 7:52 AM (PDT)

3

is this a April fools day joke early.  i love apple’s stuff but this is outrageous. its funny they ban every kind of film , since whenever I’m at the apple store they are always recommending power support’s anti glare film to customers buying a new ipod or iphone. whats next? are they going to ban all cases

Posted by j on March 17, 2010 at 7:53 AM (PDT)

4

That doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never gotten a negative impression of Apple products because the Apple Store sold protective films for iPods. Does this mean they’ll eventually ban the protective cases for Macbooks or films for keyboards?

The move, I think, hurts companies and consumers in the end. Users want to keep their iPhones and iPods in as pristine condition as possible and not having these available just hurts them.

In the old days when the iPods used the polycarbonate plastic for the face, it was absolutely necessary to get some protection to prevent scratches. The switch to the anodized aluminum makes that less of an issue, but I think the iPhone and the touch require some kind of screen protection to ward off scratches and other damage.

I guess that just means that I’ll have to buy a screen protector separately from my case when I go to buy the next iPhone.

Posted by cxc273 on March 17, 2010 at 8:00 AM (PDT)

5

I don’t get it. What’s wrong with some added peace of mind. I mean if I invest in an Apple product, I would like to keep it in good condition for a very long time. Through it all, I guess I’ll be looking elsewhere for a new case.

Posted by Oscar M. on March 17, 2010 at 8:02 AM (PDT)

6

I’ve never had a problem with screen scratches.  I don’t think I’ve put film on a PDA/phone since WinMo touch screen ones i had.  That was for stylus scratches.  Glass screens fix that issue.

Of course I do put my iphone in a leather sleeve case while in my pocket.  Just a thin one to keep it from banging around against anything else.  Mostly to protect the plastic back.

Posted by Jim E on March 17, 2010 at 8:05 AM (PDT)

7

I’ve gone caseless for my iPhone 3G for a few months now. While there are many fine scratches on the back plastic, the front glass cover is pristine.

For those who say you’re nuts to go without a film on the screen - what exactly do you think could scratch the glass that wouldn’t also cut right through the film?

Posted by Schnapple on March 17, 2010 at 8:07 AM (PDT)

8

I prefer the screen protector because it seems easier to read (if you use a matte one) and even with the oleophonic coating, there are way too many fingerprints.  Maybe I’m near-sighted and eat too much junk food, but this is one of Apple’s dumber moves.

Posted by Holly E. on March 17, 2010 at 8:23 AM (PDT)

9

I’ve never understood why anyone would need to protect a glass screen.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on March 17, 2010 at 8:24 AM (PDT)

10

Perhaps Apple is trying to protect themselves from liability?  Many of the screen protectors that I’ve used in the past required water; either the film is dipped in a soap water solution, or an equivalent solution is sprayed onto the film before application.

I suspect that the issue might be that people who attempt to apply one of these films and end up either causing liquid damage to their devices or simply triggering the moisture sensor.  I’m no lawyer, but I suspect that Apple could find themselves in hot water for selling their customers a product that potentially voids the warranty on their other products.  This is probably a CYA move on their part.

Posted by didymos! on March 17, 2010 at 8:40 AM (PDT)

11

Not sure why they would ban the screen protectors. Personally, I’ve had an iphone for two years and keep it in my back pocket all day. The screen is scratch free.  Maybe they are just making an editorial decision on the content of their crowded accessory department.

Posted by rockaway on March 17, 2010 at 8:42 AM (PDT)

12

I use a power support anti-glare on my iphone 3GS for one reason.  It cuts down on finger prints and smudges.  Actually, I was thinking of taking it off.

Posted by MSF on March 17, 2010 at 8:44 AM (PDT)

13

#7: Coins. 

#10: No screen protector sold in the Apple Store requires water to apply. Apple has not sold the various full body films that require separate bottles of fluid to lubricate the adhesive.

#11: That might make sense if Apple wasn’t banning cases from including screen protectors, but the ban applies both to separately packaged protectors, and to cases with protectors inside.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 17, 2010 at 8:50 AM (PDT)

14

A month after buying the first generation iPhone I found myself with a nice large scratch in the screen.  I honestly have no idea how it happened because nothing was ever in that pocket but there I was, wishing I had a screen protector.

From that point on I’ve had the power support screen protectors on each of my subsequent iPhones.

I don’t know their true intentions but I don’t believe this is a smart decision.

Posted by Ryan on March 17, 2010 at 8:52 AM (PDT)

15

hmmmmm…Apple deciding what it’s customers should do with the products they purchase?  No way!  Never!!

I used to get cases for my iPods, until I realized they do nothing to prevent hard drive damage when dropped.  I’ve used Invisishields ever since (and haven’t dropped my iPod) and if it wasn’t for this film, I"d probably have to replace my iPod now it would be so scratched.

Oh well, it’s not like any of my hard earnded money goes to Apple for anything other than their portable music players anyway.

Posted by Peterphan on March 17, 2010 at 9:24 AM (PDT)

16

I recall a recent Apple patent where by the screen would actually somehow raise up to respond to user touch to provide some sort of 3-d response to tactile actions… This would definitely require the absence (IMO) of a screen protector… other than that.. and heck.. even with that.. I always use screen protectors… What a crazy proposition to not use one..
Maybe if the cost of the device drops to 50.00 I could consider it.

Posted by Mike Mullaney on March 17, 2010 at 9:37 AM (PDT)

17

Did anyone think that maybe they just need the shelf space for ipad accessories?  Some apple stores are small and they already announced that new stores will be twice as big. I think they just had to pick something to get rid of to make space and gave a consistant offering of products.

But I guess that doesn’t explain online store getting rid of it unless they just want to unite the offering.

Posted by Marko on March 17, 2010 at 9:42 AM (PDT)

18

No one has mentioned a glaringly obvious reason. If iPhones stay perfect for years and years, no one will by replacement iPhones. With scratched screens, people are likely to buy the next iPhone when they can if their screen is scratched up.

I can so no other viable reason for the ban on screen protectors.

Posted by Dave M. on March 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM (PDT)

19

I’m an Apple Retail employee who has applied roughly a million of these films. A couple months ago, it became our policy not to help apply them, because they’re so difficult to get perfect and it became a liability issue (“There’s a speck of dust, give me a new one free.”). Unless you’re in a vacuum, there’s a chance of picking up dust between opening the package and putting the film down.

Obviously, this is not the ONLY reason for them to be banned, but I thought I’d add my experience. I’ll also say I’m a believer in going naked- if you’re careful, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll pick up any serious damage.

Posted by Anon on March 17, 2010 at 9:47 AM (PDT)

20

I wonder how many returns they were processing for these films. Some of the buggers are tricky to apply, and I remember ruining my first Power Support film within 15 minutes of trying to get it on. This is presumably why they typically include a spare in the pack. For perfectionists, putting a film on is a true test in patience so I could see how they may be getting complaints from customers.

Posted by jiji on March 17, 2010 at 9:50 AM (PDT)

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