The fabric, which Apple calls FineWoven, has been panned for being prone to scratches and stains — with an almost-slippery feel that’s off-putting to some. What began as a high-minded effort to make Apple’s products carbon neutral is now threatening to be one of the company’s biggest misfires of 2023.
Apple describes FineWoven as an all-new textile that’s made from 68% post-consumer recycled material. It’s part of a push to phase out leather throughout its product line, including iPhone cases and Apple Watch bands, in a step toward being carbon neutral across the company’s entire global operations.
MacDailyNews Take: There is no leather farming industry. (Cattle hides typically represent less than 2% of the total value of a U.S. beef animal.) Beef farming will continue regardless of demand for leather. In the U.S. alone, there are some 33 million cattle hides left over from cattle farming every year. Left over cattle hides not recycled for leather instead go to landfill or are otherwise destroyed as waste. Ending the use of leather use would significantly increase landfill and greenhouse gas emissions. The burning or disposal in U.S. landfills of 33 million unused hides would generate more than 750,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year – and fill all current U.S. landfill sites within four years. Globally, some 300 million hides would be wasted with 6.6 million tons of surplus emissions every year.
If we used iPhone cases, they would be leather. We’d simply switch from Apple to a quality third-party case make who still offers real leather.
But FineWoven has yet to clear its first hurdle: winning over the Apple fanatics and early adopters that snapped up the product before anyone else. Federico Viticci, a blogger and podcaster who runs the MacStories site, is one such user. He posted on Mastodon that he saw a stain on his FineWoven case after going out for dinner.
“I honestly think this is one of the worst accessories Apple’s produced,” he said. “I may just throw this out now. (Great for the environment!)”
There’s some irony in FineWoven being one of the biggest controversies surrounding the launch of the iPhone 15. This is the year that Apple switched the phone to a USB-C connector, and that was expected to trigger outrage among consumers.
MacDailyNews Take: So, is Apple playing 3-D “Control the Narrative” Chess here by deliberately releasing “FineWoven” junk – which has been resoundingly panned by nearly every reputable reviewer and which Apple employees must have clearly been able to foresee would be poorly received – in order to focus criticism on a meaningless accessory instead of iPhone 15?
Perhaps it’s not the cases that are FineWoven™, but Apple PR’s pre-built narrative?
It’d be a brilliant pre-crisis diversionary tactic if true. Instead of waiting for the annual “iPhone-gate” to be ginned up by naysayers and short sellers, Apple may have smartly prepared their own “FineWoven-gate” knowing that it would only hurt sales of one type of iPhone case (Apple still sells excellent Apple-branded silicone and polycarbonate cases which, by the way, are, or contain added chemicals, derived from fossil fuels) while also helping boost sales of third-party iPhone leather case makers and, importantly, leaving their new iPhone lineup free from some “iPhone-gate” firestorm.
Why be reactive when you can be proactive?
So, is Apple’s “FineWoven” junk an intentional self-sacrificial feint meant to divert attention from the Lightning to USB switch, excessive heat during charging or long periods of use, etc. or did Apple, in a fit of misplaced environmental virtue-signaling, just go too far by dumping quality, long-lasting leather for trashy fabric cases?
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