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Apple has stopped selling screen protectors, arguing that the iPhone and iPad should be tough enough without them.

iLounge noticed empty shelves in the Apple shop this morning as Cupertino pulled listings for screen protectors, on the grounds that the availability of scratch-resistant plastic covers undermines confidence in reliability of the unprotected hardware.

Companies making such products have apparently been in talks with Apple for a while, unsurprising given that screen protectors are the number-one iPhone accessory. But Apple has decided that all screen-adhering films will be delisted even if the stated function is glare reduction or mirroring rather than protection - Apple brooks no suggestion that its screens aren't perfect.

xGear Screen Protector

xGear's screen protecton - now you see it, now you don't as Apple clears the shelves

That won't stop manufacturers selling elsewhere of course - Apple doesn't have the stranglehold it exerts on software for its touchscreen products. But the Apple store is a significant source of sales and manufacturers will find other channels harder to get into.

Screen protectors, transparent bits of sticky-backed plastic that sit between the touchscreen and the user, have been around as long as touchscreens, and were an essential feature in the early days when plastic screens scratched with alarming ease. These days capacitive touchscreens can use glass, and products such as Gorilla Glass reduce risk of scratching considerably: which is why many of the films now emphasise their glare-reduction or mirrored surfaces, as well as scratch protection.

But that's no protection from Apple, who don't want any confusion about how perfect its products are and thus won't be selling screen protection in future. ®

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