February 13, 2015

Why We Don’t Sell Tempered Glass Screen Protectors

Eric Griffin

The competitive landscape for consumer electronic accessories moves quickly. Every time a new feature comes out, whether it is a new display or form factor, we have to pay attention.

For the past year or so, the “next big thing” in screen protectors has been tempered glass. It has become a trend large enough to make any business eager to start selling it. We certainly are no different, and are not immune to industry hype. Every time we hear of some new technology coming out, we are intrigued by the possibilities. As a quick example, we even considered a liquid screen protector idea (which turned out to be a no-go).

As a business already making screen protectors, selling tempered glass was an obvious option. We already know the industry well, and have all systems in place — so we’d just be adding another item to our product line. At first glance, tempered glass sounded like a great option and an easy sell — so why don’t we have a single tempered glass product in our lineup?

movie Nerve 2016

Here is why we made the choice to not sell tempered glass:

Protecting something with glass generally doesn’t make sense.  No doubt, tempered glass is stronger than ordinary glass. However, when it comes to trying to protect something from drops, impacts, and abrasive forces, glass isn’t a great candidate. There’s a reason car doors aren’t made of glass. Device screens today are made of glass, but this isn’t because it is particularly strong — it’s because it makes for a fantastic and beautiful user interface. In fact, the relative weakness of glass is a problem that most glass manufacturers are trying to solve.

Glass fails catastrophically, and poses health risks. Tempered glass is hardened via a process that leaves the surface of the glass compressed — it is this compression that gives tempered glass its strength, but at the risk of catastrophic failure (meaning that when it does fail, it fails hard and fast, not that it is a “catastrophe”). When tempered glass fails, that compressive energy is released: sending tiny shards of glass everywhere for as long as a minute, invisible to a human eye. Considering the constant contact with our hands and close proximity to our faces, we would never put a tempered glass screen protector on our phones, let alone sell them to others.

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We can’t warranty a glass screen protector. In our testing, we know one thing about glass screen protectors: they crack quickly and easily. We stand behind every product we make with a lifetime warranty. There is no possible way to make a glass screen protector that doesn’t crack within 6 months (and usually far sooner than that). So, if we can’t warranty and stand behind its quality, we just won’t make it or sell it.

(UPDATE October 28th, 2015) One Final Reason. Since this article is gaining some traction, we’ve got another reason for you to chew on that we left out the first time around — tempered glass screen protectors are made in China, but our company is dedicated to US manufacturing — it’s in our core values. We’re not saying Made in China is implicitly bad or unethical — but it isn’t how we built our company, and we think there are massive benefits to making everything in the US. China is like a big shopping mall where vendors compete on prices. Everyone who buys tempered glass screen protectors from China, get essentially the same product at the same price and there is nothing custom about it. Everything else is pure marketing tactics — putting a different spin on a commodity product. What we enjoy the most with our work in the US is that we can call up Joe with PhD in chemistry from a local company and ask, hey Joe, what’s new, let’s try it out, and continue to push the boundaries of what we’re able to accomplish. One way is selling a commodity, and the other is trying to make something newer and better.

We have a vision and purpose to every product we make, and tempered glass didn’t fit this vision. For now, we’ve found the advances in plastics and polymers to make for a much better product, and are thrilled with the possibilities they bring for us and our customers.

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