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Apple’s $19 cloth – and why it’s so popular

Apple announced a lot of great stuff at its recent “Unleashed” event. Insanely impressive M1 Pro/Max chips, a crowd-pleasing MacBook Pro redesign, third-generation AirPods, colorful HomePods, and a voice-only Apple Music plan.

But something else was added to the Apple Store the same day without much fanfare. It didn’t get a mention in the fancy event presentation and it’s not on the front page of Apple’s website. Yet it’s been so popular that already shipping estimates for new orders have slipped to December.

So what is the latest hot tech item?

An Apple-branded “Polishing Cloth.” A small white square of material for cleaning your displays. That costs $19/£19.

Um, what?

Apple’s product page describes it thus: Made with soft, nonabrasive material, the Polishing Cloth cleans any Apple display, including nano-texture glass, safely and effectively. It then, amusingly, goes on to list every single Apple product with a screen under a lengthy “compatibility” section.

So the Polishing Cloth is a high-end gadget wipe. To be fair, reports indicate it’s more than just a microfibre cloth and we assume it will do an excellent job of maintaining your screens.

This is the same cloth that ships included with Apple’s nano-texture glass Pro Display XDR, which costs a whopping $5999! For owners of such a precious screen, another $19 to replace a lost cloth is a drop in the ocean.

Why exactly it’s proven quite so popular with other users is more of a mystery, though.

Perhaps there’s a large cross-section of iPhone, iPad, and Mac users who worry about damaging their displays by using the wrong material for cleaning. Perhaps a horde of Apple fanatics just couldn’t wait to get their hands on a low-priced item with the Apple branding. Or perhaps Apple just didn’t stock up very well prior to putting the product live, so it only seems as though it’s popular because supply is limited.

Whatever the reason, if you’re taken by one of Apple’s strangest accessory launches in some time, you can order your own from the Apple Store. And it’ll arrive just in time for Christmas!