You'd think global supply shortages would hit Apple's tech products the hardest, but that's apparently not the case. As The New York Times reports, Apple's most backordered new release is its $19 Polishing Cloth. Order the microfiber cloth from the company store as of this writing and you'll wait 10 to 12 weeks — in other words, you won't get your Apple-branded polishing experience until January 2022 at the earliest. You could buy a new MacBook Pro and wait another two months to (officially) wipe smudges off the screen.
It's not clear what prompted the backlog, but it might be sheer popularity. An anonymous Apple official talking to The Times said the company wasn't surprised by high demand, and that the cloth was both specially designed (it was originally meant for the nano-texture glass on the Pro Display XDR) and particularly effective.
It's no secret that you can find far, far less expensive alternatives if you're cleaning a regular screen. Amazon is selling a six-pack of MagicFiber cloths for $9, and even the pricer options tend to offer better value. However, the shortfall illustrates both the cachet of the official product and the sheer range of supply constraints affecting tech, sometimes in unexpected ways. If you can't even count on getting a polishing cloth in a timely fashion, you know the industry is struggling with broad supply issues.