Why do we spend so much money on cases and screen protectors?

Summary:A piece by Ryan Block over on gdgt about how the iPhone 4 "Antennagate" has now become "Glassgate" got me thinking about a related topic - Why do we spend so much money on cases and screen protectors?

A piece by Ryan Block over on gdgt about how the iPhone 4 "Antennagate" has now become "Glassgate" got me thinking about a related topic - Why do we spend so much money on cases and screen protectors?

First, a disclaimer. I protect my cellphone with cases and screen protectors. I have done so for years. But I'm not sure why I do it.

Here's the deal. We buy a shiny new gadget (for sake of argument. say a cellphone). We hold it. Caress it. We admire it. Then, moments later we take our new "precious" and slap adhesive film on it and shove it into a case.


Note: OK, no iPhone 4 jokes about how the case stops you from holding it the wrong way!

See, the case and screen protector industry is huge. As a rule margins are low and profits are high. All these makers need to do is convince you that your handset will be in bits before the weekend if you don't buy a case and screen protector.

Just take a look at the staggering array of silicone cases available for handsets such as the iPhone. Most of these cases are cheap rubbish. Cheap to make, made of cheap material and badly finished, but none of that matters. All the company needs to do is convince a tiny fraction of the market that they need the case, and it can make a tidy profit. This business model allows even small no-name companies to horn in on massive markets such as those created by the iPhone. Most of these cases offer little in the way of real protection for the phone, but I'd say that some 80% of iPhones I see in the wild is nestled inside a silicone suit.

Then there are screen protectors. Expensive film that you stick over the top of the screen to protect it. Protect it from what exactly? Most screen protectors pick up scratches and scuffs like they're made of cheese and require changing regularly. Compare that to the material that screen are made of, which seems like pretty tough stuff on the whole. I had my first-generation iPod touch for years sans-screen protector and it never got scratched, so why does my iPhone need one? Even the best screen protectors out there aren't 100% transparent so sticking these things on the screen immediately makes a good screen crappier.

Why? Why am I paying to make a good product worse? It doesn't make sense.

Some people I've spoke to say that they protect their handsets so it maintains a high resale value down the line. This doesn't make much sense to me either. It means that you're spending money on cases and screen protectors in order to keep the phone looking good for someone else, someone who is in reality going to pay peanuts for the phone no matter what it looks like.

So, who here spends money on cases and screen protectors? What are your real-world experiences?

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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