Apple's White iPhone Delays Causing Color Coordination Angst

Apple blames production problems for nagging delays in the release of the eagerly awaited White iPhone. But the real reason is a closely held secret.

Apple executives are attempting to comfort customers dismayed by Oct. 27 news reports that the eagerly awaited white iPhone will be delayed until spring. Apple is claiming that production of a phone with white plastic proved significantly more challenging than production of the same phone with black plastic. For reasons that remain obscure, iPhone fanciers have been waiting with bated breath for the white version.

After a few minutes of in-depth research on the problem with white iPhones, I've been able to make some basic determinations as to what might be going on here, really. Clearly, making a phone white does not strain the limits of phone production technology. After all, Western Electric was making white phones back in the days of rotary dials. Since that time, a number of companies, including Panasonic and General Electric, have sold white cordless phones. So the color white clearly does not preclude the phone-worthiness of a device.

Nor does being white keep a smartphone from working. Research In Motion has been making white BlackBerrys for a couple of years, and has just announced a new version of the Bold, running BlackBerry OS 6.0, that will come in white. So it has to be something besides manufacturing. Some Apple sources say it's because the white home button doesn't match the case. But that reason is also clearly bogus, since the existing black iPhone cases and the black buttons don't match either.

No, something more sinister is at work here. Perhaps Apple is suffering from a case of political correctness run amok? Perhaps by creating a white iPhone, Apple might lose its status of being the coolest phone out there. Or perhaps it's afraid of being too much like RIM, which is, after all, from Canada, not California, which is the home of all that's cool (as differentiated from cold, which is what Canada has to offer).

On the other hand, perhaps it's fear of losing a competitive advantage. After all, Android phones are available in silver and black, but not white. Is this the fear of losing the silver and black market to the Android masses? Think about it. The hyper-successful Droid line from Verizon Wireless is black. Most BlackBerrys are black, except for those that are red or purple or gold or whatever. Perhaps black is the color of success in phones, just like in the old days when pay phones were all black.

Or, perhaps the black iPhones have priority on the secret underground iPhone production line because Verizon Wireless likes black phones and there simply isn't capacity for white phones on the same line. Sometime next spring, after Apple has sold Verizon Wireless its 10 million black iPhones, the production lines will free up and they can start using up that supply of non-matching white cases that have been gathering dust since July. After all, who is really going to care if the white home button doesn't match the white case? Who is even going to be able to tell? They're on different sides of the phone, after all.

But if white is that big a problem, maybe it might be better if Apple chooses some other color. Granny Smith Green, perhaps? Delicious Red? That won't come with the marketing baggage of the white iPhone, and it'll be a lot less boring. And they ARE Apple colors, right?

There are, of course, solutions. The most obvious is spray paint. The advantage is that you can have a white iPhone in seconds. It's also cheap, readily available, and if you let it dry properly it won't cause too many serious health hazards. The primary downside is that you have to be careful what part of the phone you paint.

And, of course, you can buy up scrap Western Electric white phones, melt them down into a nice batch of phenolic resin and cast the iPhone parts from that. The resulting phones will be white, they'll be cheap, and they'll be rugged. The fact that they'll weigh 3 pounds each is a small price to pay for a white iPhone.

And of course, you can take a marketing lesson from Steve Jobs and simply deny that your black iPhone is actually black. You can hold a press conference and explain that it's just a different kind of white, that the whole discussion is just the media causing "black case gate." If you think about it, the case is the color it should be. Calling the case black will just show that you're out of touch.

Or, of course, you can just wait until Apple gets its act together to make white phones. But where's the fun in that?

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...