Apple Talk: Ghost of white iPhone haunts Steve Jobs

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

...IBM, left the company just a few months after he had arrived. Probably just a coincidence?

Then last week, the device seemingly became available to pre-order from the US-only Apple Store iPhone app - yet the next day it was again delayed, this time until spring 2011.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters: "We're sorry to disappoint customers waiting for the white iPhone again." There was no explanation for the latest delay.

Being Apple, there are naturally plenty of rumours about why the white iPhone has failed to make it to market.

Component incompatibility problems
The only official announcement Apple has made about the delay is the statement that the white device has proved "more challenging" to manufacture.

However, rumours swirl around the web about problems with colour incompatibility between parts supplied by different Far East component makers. In other words, Apple may be dealing with the wrong kinds of white.

Alternatively, rumour has it that the problems are down to light leaking through the back of the device, which may or may not affect its ability to take photographs.

Likewise there has been an inevitable amount of speculation about whether the manufacturing problems surrounding the iPhone 4's much trumpeted and then much maligned external antenna contributed to Papermaster's swift exit from the company.

It's not hard to imagine the history of production difficulties with the white iPhone contributing to an extremely difficult time for the company's short-lived hardware engineering chief.

Meanwhile, the white iPhone 4 remains elusive and out of Apple's grasp.

White whale analogies
Other commentators, particularly in the US, have made the inevitable white whale analogy - the image of a desperate pursuit of an evasive adversary.

The great white whale of Melville's Moby Dick has been claimed as a metaphor for many things, including God, the ocean, nature and death itself, so in our age of wireless communications, why not a white smartphone?

Can the company really be serious about selling the phone in the spring? After all, Apple has released a new iPhone in June or July every year since 2008. A spring launch gives it just a couple of months until the iPhone 5 is likely to be released.

As of last week, the device has been largely removed from the Apple website, although there's still the odd sighting here and there.

We wait eagerly to see whether it has simply dived to the depths for the time being or whether it's been harpooned.

Either way, it will torment the product perfectionist Jobs just as the great whale tormented Captain Ahab: "To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."