Price of cell phone screen protectors

I just upgraded my Verizon cell phone yesterday and a 3-pack of screen protectors goes for about $12. That 's about $0.50 per square inch of plastic sheet, or $72 a square foot. This is approximately twice the cost of gold leaf.

I figured I could find a comparable no-name product online for a fraction of that price, but didn’t.

  1. Why are these so damn expensive? Although these items do provide value to the consumer in that nobody wants a scratched screen on their expensive phone, the profit is obscene; the cost to manufacture must be pennies.

  2. Am I not looking in the right place for cheap versions?

The price will rise to that which the market will bear. It’s not really the physical product you’re paying for here - you’re paying for the value of the service provided by it.

I dropped the money on one of those “3x the cost of the others” Zagg screens.
Worth every penny. It’s more of a thin rubber than plastic, doesn’t distort the image like some of the cheaper screen protectors do, looks the same as the day I put it on 6 months ago. Probably won’t need a new one until I get a new phone in another year and a half.

If you want cheap, check ebay. There you can probably find a 3-pack for under $5 shipped. Usually these sorts of things via international mail in an envelope straight from the factory somewhere in southeast Asia.

You don’t need a screen protector per se. Just get yourself down to Staples or Office Depot and buy a pack of three plastic pocket protectors. They still sell these, so there must be a few engineers left out there who still use them. This pack will cost $1.00 plus sales tax, and makes a great cell phone case unless your phone is huge. If you want to get fancy pick up some self stick velcro, and install it so you can seal the upper flap. Works like a charm.

And beats the heck out of buyng a cell phone case for $12 or so.

I second the eBay recommendation. The ones I got are about $2 including postage, and they are not the rubbery-feeling ones, which I don’t like. They’re smooth and non-scratching and feel much like the original screen. They go on with no air bubbles and are easy to position and reposition. Here’s an example. Plus, it ships from California in a few days.

BodyGuardz is great, I have took a key and razor to it with no scratches

Because nobody offers a comparable no-name product online for a fraction of that price.

Seriously, people (in large numbers) are willing to pay that price instead of scrounging around for a cheap knock-off, and that’s why they are so damn expensive.

If you could make a product, package it, and get it onto a store shelf for thirty cents, and people were willing to pay $12 for it, how much would you charge for it?

I got a roll of thin, clear vinyl from the craft store and cut it to fit. Super cheap and worked very well.

The material itself doesn’t cost much, but the machines to die-stamp it are, and so is the cost of retooling your dies every time the phone manufacturer changes the placement of a button.

You compare it the cost of gold leaf, but that’s pretty disingenous. How about the cost of gold leaf that’s cut and shaped to a set of particular dimensions? I think you’ll find that to cost quite a bit more.

Well, certainly I understand the economic theory and all that. And after all, I bought it.

I have a flash diffuser that costs around $15-20. It’s just a piece of white opaque plastic, but it’s molded to exactly fit my particular flash unit. The marginal cost to produce it is probably around a dime. But it’s not something I could do myself even if I had the appropriate raw material, and it has value to me, so I coughed up the dough.

But with items like this where someone is making a killing, there is always someone else willing to make an equivalent product and sell it cheaper. For example, I needed a replacement AC adapter for my laptop. I called Best Buy and they had one for something like $90. I bought one online for around $10. (Of course, there are also those willing to make a completely inferior product and sell it cheaper.)

It seems to be that most phones could use a rectangular piece that the buyer could trim to size. I’d pay $3 for that, and a company that sold it that way would take away a huge amount of business from the $12 guys.

The comparison is not disingenuous at all but was not intended to be apples to apples and was somewhat tongue in cheek. Today I heard a radio news reporter comparing the cost of gasoline to milk, but you can’t put milk in your car. I have also compared the cost of a Lamborghini to that of a 4-bedroom house. People do this all the time to give things a sense of proportion.

I bought these about a year ago, and they last about 3 months or so each. I assume there are other versions for other phones.

This is going to make me sound like a shill, but Zagg’s InvisibleShield line of rubbery protectors really is amazing. Check out their video; they really are that effective.

Installation is a bit tricky the first time, so it’s better to have them do it at one of their mall kiosks, but after you get it on… man, your screen will probably outlast your device. Nothing goes through and everything wipes off. You can’t really scratch it from normal use and you shouldn’t ever need to replace it once it’s on (and if you do, it comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee).

I put one on every electronic device I own. Completely worth it.

Clearly not the case, as you’ve demonstrated in the OP. Sometimes you’re dealing with a niche product, where someone isn’t willing to produce/sell for peanuts because the market is just too small.

Case in point: I have a product that I sell on the internet. It’s a tool that works together with another commercially available tool. Producing in quantity, it costs me about $3 (and three minutes) to make it in my basement, package it, and ship it; I sell it for $30. To my knowledge, nobody else makes anything like it, which is why I can charge that much. The market is pretty small though, just a few hundred units per year, so it’s not surprising that someone else hasn’t made arrangements to have pallet-loads of them molded in China and shipped here.

Same might be true of your cell phone. I wonder how many copies of that particular cell phone Verizon sold? After that, I wonder how many of those particular cell phone owners were interested in a screen protector? If there’s only a market for a couple thousand screen protectors, few manufacturers are going to be excited about tooling up for that.

The economics look different if you’re dealing with a LOT of units. Take the iPhone, for example, with 75M units sold. Now you’ve got a big market, with plenty of room for third-party accessory manufacturers, and indeed you do see all kinds of variety in price, quality, and name brand.

You may be able to find an equivalent on-line somewhere but probably never in stores. Retailers are becoming very selective on who they give shelf space to. If they can’t get a certain $ return on it forget it. If they can buy screen protectors from a vendor for $1 and sell them for $5 it’s not worth their time. If they can buy it from the vendor for $5 and sell it for $18 it’s suddenly worth their time.
Case in point: Best Buy used to carry a line of audio/video accessories made by Recoton. Cheap and durable everything under $8. Great stuff, they sold a ton, but didn’t make a ton. They also carried the highly profitable Monster brand (I believe ‘monster’ refers to the profit margin). While they did well selling the Monster brand the Recoton stuff still outsold it 10-1. How to sell more of the Monster stuff?? Remove the option of buying the Recoton. They yanked the vendor and now stock the shelves with high-ticket Monster brand as well as their spendier house brands Rocketfish, Dynex, Insignia.