Apple bans protective screen film from Apple Store

Apple bans protective screen film from Apple Store 1

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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  1. This is gross! I don’t want my make-up all over the screen. Is this some ploy to get me to buy a whole new i”Phone” when the one I have gets nasty and dirty?? (Quotes are intentional since it drops calls for no reason what-so-ever).

  2. I bought one after my daughter scratched the screen by rubbing it against my iPod (which had a notch in it from being dropped)…they are very nice, but they diminish the sensitivity of the touch screen.

    Still, banning them altogether is a bit extreme.

  3. Going naked on the whole phone – too risky. But I’ve been caseless for about a year and the iPhone feels so much better in the hand and doesn’t stick to the inside of my pocket now I have no awful case on it. I dropped my phone on concrete (without a case) it bounced around a bit and not a scratch or dent – they are pretty bloody hardy compared to your typical mobile methinks.

    I agree that it’s unlikely you would get a bad scratch on the glass screen but given the best screen films are so easy to get on bubble free these days I think it’s worth taking precautions.

    Would be nice if someone came out with a smudgeless film but that’s probably next to impossible :-/

  4. That they are pulling entire lines of cases just because the manufacturer tossed in a screen protector seems to indicate that this is about more than just clearing shelf space at the Apple store.

    Do screen protectors negatively affect the proximity or brightness sensors? Static electricity issues? Overheating? Moisture sensor issues?

    Should we be removing our screen protectors for fear that they might be causing unknown problems?

    Until Apple elaborates, I have to assume that this is nothing more than a cheap ploy to get us to upgrade our iPods/iPhones on a more regular basis. Let’s face it, if Apple wanted these things to last forever they would have made the batteries removable. Planned obsolescence?

  5. I have never understood why anyone would buy stuff from the Apple store. You can usually get better deals and thrown-in extras from other vendors.

    I couldn’t care less what is Jobs’ anal-retentive action of this month.

  6. Love those screens, they’ve saved me tons of scratches. I learned the hard way, when my first of many iphones got scratched from a key in my pocket. Until then, I’d bragged about how hardy the screens were and how they didn’t require any protection.

    My suspicion is that the customer service implications of the screens are the reason that apple is banishing them from the stores. They’re hard to get on, and the Apple store folks have always done it for me, which turns into a 10 minute or so task for a 15$ (retail) sale.

  7. I bought film for my iPhone 3GS after a friend scratched the screen by accident. It reduced some of the interference from the scratch, and has kept it safe since.

  8. I will always use a screen protector on my iPhone, this is ridiculous! A quick search of google shows you how many people scratch their iPhone screen.

    Don’t buy the cheap unbranded versions, they’re rubbish. Choose Power Support (currently sold by Apple) or PhoneDevil. I work for a well know phone retailer in the UK and those are the brands we recommend over the crappy own-brand products we are forced to sell! They both also have excellent customer service.

  9. As usual, Apple makes a relatively sweeping change to something under their control but fails to explain their actions to anyone, including the vendors who have helped keep Apple thriving by contributing to the iPod/Apple ecosystem.

    You’d think if there’s a good reason they might have wanted to let the public know about it. Otherwise, most won’t notice and those that do will be potentially mislead (either in thinking there is a problem, or in thinking Apple is being bullheaded just because).

    Films have become a bit of a standard add on for many of the “premium” cases and accessories, and even I, strong and unabashed critic of Apple at times, do count on my local Apple store for carrying a wider (if higher priced) selection of accessories than anywhere else not online. It would be a shame to miss out good accessories just because there’s a 0.05mm thick sheet of laminate in the box.

  10. When I had my first iPhone, I never scratched the screen and used a case for the first couple of days that I got it. The case was silicon and it annoyed me that it slipped and the like. I stopped using it. I am now considering getting a new 3Gs. I am also, if I get the phone, going to buy the OtterBox defender case, and that has been known to add little air bubbles between the built in protector of the case and the screen. Reading on how to fix this, it is said that if you just add a PowerSupport protector, the problem would be solved. I will just buy it from somewhere else, as they are the same prices anyhow.

  11. I have a screen protector for my iPhone which I bought from an Apple store. It’s far, far better than the screen itself – it reduces glare when using the iphone in bright light and it makes the surface a lot silkier and easier for me to run my sticky fingers over. Not to mention the added peace of mind knowing that if I accidentally put it in the same pocket as something key-related and it gets scratched then all I need to do is remove the screen protector and put a new one on, instead of having to pay Apple lots of money for a replacement screen, or put up with the scratched one I’m stuck with.

    When will people start realising that Apple are a ridiculously stupid company when it comes to business and design decisions, but have a very very smart PR team?

  12. This has happened because customers are constantly asking Apple Store staff to put the screen protectors on for them. This in turn is causing significant delays in serving other customers as putting the screen protector on takes time.
    What customers need to realise when they buy a screen protector is that they’re buying a product, not a service!

  13. Really, is there some kind of insanity running rampant over at Apple HQ? Where do they come up with these things. Ban this ban that. Aren’t there laws against this kind of thing?

  14. My first iPhone went through hell and back with me and my small business, not to mention kids, and just random everyday mistakes. Though the amazing iPhone miraculously survived being dropped in a pond, i have dropped it so much that even after the first few months that i had it, it already had tiny scratches on the glass. Now with my new iPhone I have a plastic film for the glass and a cute case for the extra protection and it is working marvelously! I can’t imagine what it should look like now.

    Oh and when I first got my 1st generation iPhone it had a tiny bubble in the glass screen and by the time my contract ended it had huge bubbles all down one side and had thick, dark grey lines over the top, and a orange colored spot that was always there it looked like a plasma screen when you press your finger against it.
    I should have taken it back that day but i didn’t think it would do all that. P.S. it was like that before the pond incident.

  15. #6 and #7:

    I have seen a lot of iPhones with scratches on the glass screen. When I purchased mine at an Apple store the person helping me let me see her personal iPhone and it’s screen was a mess.

    Why is a glass screen so sensitive? Mine is protected and I have has scratches on the film. After I replaced the film and the scratches were gone, they did not make it down to the glass.

    I don’t think you would be nuts not to protect the screen, but if you treat an iPhone like it’s a phone then it might get a little surface damage.

  16. I have an original iPhone purchased on the day of release, and nearly three years later, the screen is perfect. I’ve never used protective film, as obviously, it’s not needed.

  17. I have grown to really like Apple products, after being very skeptical and hands-off for years. Apple has done pretty well off me in a couple of short years, too: I’ve bought three iPhones, several iPods, an Apple TV, the MBP I’m typing this on, and now, almost, an iPad. Although it will pain me to do it, if Apple doesn’t at least explain this unfathomable move, I intend to cancel my iPad pre-order and not buy any more Apple products until it does. I’m sure there’s a method to its madness, and I think it owes it to its customers and accessories vendors to clue us in. It makes me feel like Jobs thinks of us as second-class citizens, which is a suspicion I’ve had a couple other times in my short experience with his company’s products. His products, while classy and a joy to use, are not worth all that.

  18. I think I must be the only oddball on Earth who does not have a protective film covering the screen but instead has one covering the back of my iPhone. My screen is flawless and scratch free. I will never understand people who gripe and whine and moan about their screen getting scratched by coins and keys. How about putting the iPhone in the pocket opposite the coins and keys?

  19. Hey Jason E, did you even read any of the posts? Of course not! NOBODY complaining of a scratch has put it in a pocket with keys or coins! The coating on the 3Gs is scratch prone. Good for you that it hasn’t happened to you. Stop being so condescending!

  20. “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?”

    I dropped mu iPhone from the couch and it landed on top of a steel brush for my cat. Scratched the hell out of the film I had on it, but did not go through to the screen itself. Imagine how my screen would have been without that film. That right there is reason enough for me to have a protective film of some sort.

  21. I use a screen protector. I have had 2 iphones, and after the first was mysteriously scratched on a trip, I got a powersuppport film.

    if the films from any vendor were truly bad for the iphone, then Apple would recommend that we don’t use them at all, not just banning them from the apple store. I suspect it’s something else, but they’re never going to tell us why.

  22. Does this mean Apple will be giving me a refund for the protective screen their sales rep. sold me and installed for me? If they aren’t needed, and their sales reps are telling you to get one when you buy an iphone, then installing it for you, that seems a bit misleading to me. I want my money back 🙁

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