Welcome to Glassgate—Apple Pulls Slide-On Cases for the iPhone 4

Apple has instructed its retail stores to stop selling slide-on cases for the iPhone 4 because of what is now being called ‘Glassgate’—the chance of dirt getting trapped between the case and the phone itself. These trapped particles can scratch the glass on the smartphone and in case you didn’t know, the glass back of the iPhone 4 is not Gorilla Glass, just the front.

According to GDGT’s sources, Apple has gone on a preemptive strike before the holiday season to avoid any more damage to the iPhone brand. Antennagate certainly had some type of effect on Apple’s iPhone 4 sales and the white model has yet to make a public appearance. The company is extensively testing each slide-on case before approval for sale in its stores even though it has already approved each as ‘Made for iPhone’.

The dirty little secret behind all of this is that Apple doesn’t just make money off of the media and apps sold through its iTunes store or each iPhone/iOS device it sells. It also takes a fee off the top of each Made for iPhone accessory sold. Apple literally makes money at every step in the smartphone game even if all it has to do is put its stamp of approval on something. Now that’s an enviable business model.

While these slide-on cases are being tested, they are still available for sale through other outlets besides Apple’s own retail stores and still have their Made for iPhone authorization. Apple wants to start ramping up its quality control over what it sells and while it may eventually approve all of them, it doesn’t want to take chances. The only problem is that many case makers rely on Apple’s stores as their primary distribution channel. It doesn’t matter if their cases are still approved by Apple as authorized third-party accessories. If Apple doesn’t sell them, they are going to have a very difficult time.

So we have had Antennagate, the white iPhone debacle and now this Glassgate stuff. You would think the iPhone 4 is a politician and not a smartphone from how much coverage it gets online. Apple will learn from its mistakes this time around and test the iPhone 5 a lot better. Remember, Apple’s manufacturer had to buy custom machines just to build the iPhone 4.

Let me know what you think of all this. Not a big deal? Apple looking out for everyone’s best interests here? Think all of this overplayed and your phone is going to get scratched and broken eventually anyway?

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