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The 6.3-by-6.3-inch cloth became available in October, when Apple typically announces its new products. But unlike Apple’s other recent releases, like the long-awaited M1 MacBook Pro and revamped iPad Mini, the Polishing Cloth joined the brand’s roster of offerings quietly and without any fanfare. Still, the cloth quickly made its way to best-seller status, despite not technically being a new product at all. The cloth has been included in Apple’s XDR Pro Displays before, but it’s now gone on-sale for all Apple devices.
With its light gray non-woven microfiber and embossed Apple logo in the bottom right corner, the Polishing Cloth itself is incredibly unassuming. The product is inspired by the microfiber cloth previously provided for free with the Pro Display XDR, one of Apple’s more powerful monitors with a low-reflectivity surface. Fans of the cloth loved it so much they asked for ways to buy extras, which prompted the company to offer it as a separate product.
But if there’s one thing Apple is good at, it’s marketing. The cloth’s product page says it can clean “any Apple display, including nano-texture glass, safely and effectively,” thus implying any other cloth runs the risk of leaving smudges or scratches behind. The Polishing Cloth is also “compatible” with 88 different Apple products, from iPhones and iPads to various laptop, desktop, and watch models. As for why the Polishing Cloth wouldn’t be compatible with certain items, Apple doesn’t say.
As someone who’s admittedly loyal to Apple largely due to its products’ aesthetics, even I find the idea of a $19 branded microfiber cloth to be a bit absurd. But the accessory is relatively cheap compared to other Apple accessories, meaning the company may be pulling the equivalent of a supermarket that stocks candy and gum near the cash registers—what’s one last-minute accessory when you’re already committing to a major purchase?
Of course, Apple’s strategy with its Polishing Cloth may not be so complicated. After all, the cloth’s product page sits alongside that of the Apple Mac Pro Wheels Kit, a set of four casters intended for adding “improved mobility” to one’s Mac Pro for the low, low price of $699. Apple’s accessories may just be special because they’re expensive, not in spite of the fact.
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