Apple Talk: Ghost of white iPhone haunts Steve Jobs

The apparition of June's WWDC has still yet to materialise...

Apple is shifting black iPhones by the million, but for some reason it can't even manufacture the white variety, let alone sell it, says Seb Janacek.

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 4 at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference in June, CEO Steve Jobs announced two models: one black, one white.

The black model has gone on to contribute massive revenues to the company's coffers - Apple sold over 14 million iPhones, according to its latest quarterly results. While the 3GS still remains in Apple's product line-up, there's no doubt the (black) iPhone 4 drove the sales - and why not? It's an impressive product.

In comparison, the tale of the white iPhone 4 is one of embarrassment, frustration and shame. The white iPhone 4 has been seen in the wild fewer times than snow leopards have been filmed in the upper Himalayas by freezing, crazed BBC cameramen.

Despite the 4 June unveiling, the white phone has failed to make it to market and now the story of its difficult birth has taken another turn.

Recent developments in the white iPhone tale
The latest twist in the saga of the white iPhone came last week with news the device had been added and then swiftly removed from Apple's website - the ghost of a machine seemingly exorcised from Apple's shop window.

Black and white Apple iPhone 4s

The black iPhone 4, foreground, is a common sight but the white iPhone remains elusive
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

Back in June, samples were made available for the press to fondle, and early hands-on reviews spoke with enthusiasm about the device's aesthetic appeal, with some comparing it to the original iPod.

While the current 3GS iPhone comes in white, it's just a back case. The iPhone 4 features white components on the face of the phone and the effect was said to be impressive. Sadly, it has yet to make it into the hands of paying customers, only the grubby hands of the press.

The white model was conspicuously missing at the device's launch on 24 June. Jobs himself at the notorious Antennagate press conference announced that units would be available in limited supply by the end of July. Not so.

Manufacturing challenges
A week later and the company issued a press release announcing: "White models of Apple's new iPhone 4 have continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected, and as a result they will not be available until later this year."

Shortly afterwards, Mark Papermaster, the senior vice president of devices hardware engineering whom Apple had lured at enormous expense and effort from the clutches of...