Apple's most back-ordered new product is not what you expect

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (NYTIMES) – Apple last month unveiled an array of new gadgets: more powerful MacBook laptop computers, AirPod wireless headphones with longer battery life and HomePod Mini speakers in three more colours.

But a different and unheralded Apple release is garnering so much interest that it has become the company’s most back-ordered new product: a US$19 (S$26), 6.3-by-6.3-inch cloth to wipe smudges and fingerprints off screens.

The cloth, imprinted with the Apple logo in the corner, is made with “soft, nonabrasive material” to clean the screens of iPhones, iPads and MacBooks “safely and effectively”, according to the product page.

The listing adds that the Polishing Cloth – capital P, capital C – is “compatible” with 88 different Apple products. For most United States shoppers, shipment is delayed until Jan 11, at the earliest.

The Polishing Cloth is far more expensive than widely available alternatives. MagicFiber, a popular brand of microfibre cloth that uses ultrafine fibres to clean glass without scratching the surface, offers a pack of six for US$9 on Amazon.

Even so, the price has not stopped Apple fans from rushing to be early adopters.

Technically, the cloth is not a new product. Apple had previously provided it free for customers who bought one of its high-end monitors. Apple said it designed its own cloth for the special glass and decided to sell the product separately when some customers asked to buy extras.

Apple said the cloth was made of a non-woven microfibre but declined to elaborate.

Mr Patrick Tomasso, 32, a Toronto-based YouTube creator, said he thought that Apple charging 25 Canadian dollars for the cloth was “ridiculous” since many tech products include a free microfibre cloth.


The Polishing Cloth is “compatible” with 88 different Apple products. PHOTO: NYTIMES

But when he noticed that it was not shipping until next year, he said he got a “bit of FOMO” – fear of missing out – and quickly snapped up two sheets from a nearby Apple store. As a spoof, Mr Tomasso then made an “unboxing video” of himself opening the “most revolutionary Apple product”.

“I probably would not buy it again but I like the fact that I own one,” Mr Tomasso said. Then he paused and added, “But I hate that I like that I own one.”

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