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Where's The White Wonder?

July 19, 2010

Gratuitious Monkey Shot

On June 7th when Steve Jobs showed off the new iPhone 4, he announced both the traditional black model, as well as a model with a white back and front. However, there were no white iPhone 4's to be had on launch day. Almost a month later, on July 16th, Steve announced that the white models would be available at the end of the month. Apple blamed the delay on "manufacturing issues," but what does that mean and what effect will it have on supply?

A recent writeup on discussed the production issues of the white iPhone 4. They cited the industry publication 21st Century Business Herald's article about Lens Technology, a company that produces touchscreen and other glass products for electronics. Lens Technology is tasked with milling, shaping and decorating the glass for the white iPhone 4. The decorating part of that process includes adding the coloring that differentiates the two models. According to the article, the manufacturing difficulty Steve Jobs spoke of may lie in the white paint itself. Creating an acceptable black color is much easier than a crisp white. If not enough paint is applied, the iPhone 4 will look beige or grey. If more paint is applied, the color looks better but the glass panel gets thicker. If the paint is too thick, the next subcontractor may have trouble sandwiching the glass, digitizer and display into the thin unit that Apple needs. With orders for the black iPhone 4's still showing an approximate 3 week lead time, will there be enough white iPhones to meet demand? According to the article, probably not. Their sources claim that Lens Technology's facility and 14,000 employees can only produce at about half the speed Apple demands. While it is possible that Apple considered this and has been holding off on the sale of the white model to stockpile units, this rumor also suggests they will sell out quickly and be very slow to restock. With over 3 Million black iPhones sold to date, what Apple cannot predict is how many people settled for the black iPhone 4 and how many have been holding off for the white ones. How about you? Are you planning on buying a white iPhone 4?

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