A posting on Macworld.com contains a response from Apple executive Phil Schiller on the iPod nano complaints about screens that are easily scratched or broken. According to Schiller, the broken screen problem is separate vendor issue and affects less than 1/10 of 1 percent of units shipped. Units will be replaced.
The scratchy screen issue, according to Schiller, is a non-issue: "We have received very few calls from customers reporting this problem – we do not think this is a widespread issue. If customers are concerned about scratching we suggest they use one of the many iPod nano cases to protect their iPod." I doubt that will be the last word on the subject...
Update: James Kim, CNET.com's audio expert, has this advice:
It's a known fact that all Apple iPods scratch fairly easily. Take a look at any iPod (front and back), and you'll notice a series of tiny scratches and smudges. In general, these blemishes give the iPod a more used--and in some minds, charming--look, and while an iPod loses a certain amount of luster, it doesn't affect its overall usability.
However, we've heard many complaints about the iPod Nano and how it seems to scratch more easily than other iPods and how these blemishes affect the device's usability. The Nano utilizes a polycarbonate coating that seems softer than other iPods'; it's a layer of plastic as seen on other Apple products such as the short-lived Cube. While you get typical scratches and smudges on the Nano, they occur more easily and are much more noticeable on a black Nano. I know since I carried my black Nano in my pocket with some change and keys like the typical user and found not only scratches and smudges but tiny chips on the hard edges of the device. After a week of use, this and the smudges tend to make text and photos seem warped under the smudges; the results are more noticeable than on the iPod Photo because of the Nano's size. While it's not pretty, I can use my Nano effectively.
Our advice: First, if you don't already have a Nano, consider getting a white one, as the blemishes are less likely to be noticed; secondly, pick up a case from an accessories house such as Belkin or Speck. Associate Editor Jasmine France carries her white Nano in one of these, and the body is nearly flawless, though it has the same effect as a bra on a sleek and fancy car--meh! Thirdly, make sure your pocket is free of change and keys if it's also going to hold your Nano. Finally, you can purchase a protective tattoolike skin or even get your Nano colorized for $64.