So I bet right now you're all wondering why Apple delayed the iPhone 4? While the obvious answer is supply limitations, what caused them? Moreover, what if it's something else? Here are some possibilities I came up with, along with my completely amateur opinion as to their likelihood.
1. Supply Issues - Likelihood: 90%
In all reality, only a crazy person would have the hottest product in the world, and not put every unit on sale when buzz is at its peak. That is, unless there is a very good reason not to sell them yet. Enter the limited supply. If Apple started selling the white one only to sell out in the first few minutes of online pre-order at 4 a.m. on release day, two things would happen.
First, the media would attack the company for poor logistical preparation (which will probably happen anyway). However, now when Apple in all likelihood does tell us "supply issues" caused the delay, it will probably be coupled with a hard release date for the white one. A spoon full of sugar, anyone? Note: the medicine will still taste like poor planning.
Second, there would be a bunch of regular Joe customers who wouldn't get a shot at the white iPhone 4 for awhile. The absence of a chance for the white one might turn them off, while us Appleheads will take pretty much whatever Apple throws at us. The last thing Apple wants to do is discourage new adopters.
So Apple held off on releasing the white one. What caused the holdup?
Who knows? It could be the global release spreading the initial production run thin, it could be that the white iPhone 4 was a last-minute design decision to counter the Great Apple Leak of 2010, or it could be that some defect emerged in the white model very recently.
We'll probably never know the real reason, because "supply issues" is all the reason anyone needs to know to get the gist of the problem, and the rest will become moot when the store lets us click "Buy" to our hearts' content.
If there is indeed a shortage of white iPhone 4s, the question remains, how will Apple deal with it? They could release them only in Apple stores, sans pre-order, for only the most die-hard of Apple fans who wait in line for two days. They could also wait until they can match production to projected demand, and then have a "White iPhone Launch Day." Or, they could just inauspiciously let the buying begin as soon as they think they have enough.
Again, who knows what they'll do? I do doubt they'd let squatters nab the first ones. Ebay opportunists would be all over that, and we'd have the white ones going only to the plutocrats who can afford a $5,000.00 iPhone for the rest of the summer. My money's on a later, specifically-timed release. Two hype- and buzz-generating product launches in one summer, with no R&D costs? That sounds like Christmas at Apple, Inc.
In the meantime, let's explore some more interesting (and speculative) possibilities.
2. Apple Delayed Purposefully - Likelihood: 30%
A purposeful delay, while irking the Apple faithful, would be an obvious way to buzz up the iPhone, steal more headlines, and dial mystique for the white iPhone up to 11. As we know, Apple has usually reserved the white iPhone for it's top-end handset.
With the iPhone 3G, you could only get the white in the 16GB flavor. 3GS came with white in all models, but it lost some of that exclusivity, that instant recognition that you've got the top-of-the-line. So what if the delay is to recover that exclusivity? Think about it. In the future, when you see someone pull out a white iPhone 4, you'll know a few things about them.
You'll know they're discerning. Not just any ol' Most Awesome Smartphone in the Universe will do, not for that person. That person actually waited past launch day to get that specific color. There's no difference otherwise. A sacrifice purely for aesthetics. Is it superficial? Maybe. But aren't you just a little jealous?
You'll also know they have (at least some) impulse control. I'll bet some of you reading this wanted a white one, but couldn't resist the impulse not to click "pre-order" and just settled for a black one. That white iPhone owner didn't give in to that impulse. That's a rare quality in a die-hard Apple fan, further distinguishing the white iPhone owner from the rest.
Obviously, someone who just wanted a black one could be quite discerning and have iron impulse control. All I'm saying is you'll be able to tell those qualities in the owner of a white iPhone 4 just by looking at their phone. Their constitutions will be immediately clear to anyone who visited the online Apple store on June 15, 2010, looking to pre-order the phone. Waiting for the white one gains you instant Apple prestige. Just remember, when you get yours, you don't have to talk about it. It'll make you sound smug, and anyone who cares will know without you saying a single word.
So did Apple and Co. do this on purpose? Probably not. But the effect will be present nonetheless. It kind of makes the white one worth waiting for, doesn't it?
3. AT&T's Behind It - Likelihood: 1%
Probably not. But it would be fun to blame them.
4. Steve Jobs is Conducting a Behavioral Experiment on Us - Likelihood: 5%
While this is also highly unlikely, think of all the interesting consumer behavior data one could gather from the Apple community's response to this? Apple could be using the iPhone 4, already a guaranteed smash hit, to figure out how to do the perfect product launch. Based on this data, Steve and Co. could architect the launch of about any product they wanted to sell millions. They could one day even use this info to market the iSlaveChip, and we'll all be charging retailers like rabid dogs to have them installed in our cerebral cortexes. Just one step further towards global hegemonic domination. Or better quarterlies.
Whatever the reason or rhyme, one thing's for certain. As of 3:30 p.m. CST, there's no official word from Apple, and the store isn't selling 'em. However this plays out, here at TheWhiteiPhone4Blog, we are in this with you for the long haul. Stay tuned for updates and product details for the iSlaveChip, or if you prefer, the white iPhone 4.