The unbearable lightness of whiteness


— 3:01 PM on April 29, 2011

Hey, kids, didya hear the news? Only ten months behind schedule, Apple shipped the iPhone 4 Caucasian Edition into the waiting arms of Anglophiles everywhere. The Man can finally rejoice. And Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney can regroup for touching remix of "Ebony & Ivory." Or Feist can cover it. Whatever.

Personally, I don't know why Apple bothered with the white iPhone 4. Yes, previous editions of the iPhone came in white. At least I saw them on the order page at Apple.com. I have no idea if I've ever seen one in the wild because I've literally only seen three people pull out an iPhone that wasn't in a case. And those three were black. Of course, in previous incarnations, the iPhone's white bits (ooh, naughty!) were only on the back and less prone to be displayed proudly, prominently or p-wordily. The iPhone 4, on the other hand, features color (in a sense) on the front face so people could instantly tell if you were a Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow kind of nerd.

Or at least they would have if Apple's supplier hadn't botched the white version's production. For all of us who have gladly forgotten, the initial white iPhone 4s suffered from what is known in the business as a crappy paint job. A real Earl Scheib special. Uneven finish. Light leakage. And a shade that some said was more ecru than pure Fox bottom. So Apple shipped only the black version last summer, promising to get the white phone into waiting Klan members' hands (you knew that joke was coming, right?) as soon as possible. Gartner estimated that Apple lost upwards of 16 sales due to this delay.

Ten months later, Apple has managed to make the MacBook Air more gaseous, fill the MacBook Pro with Sandiness, release a CDMA iPhone, and overtake Microsoft in both revenue and profit for a quarter. And now they have a white iPhone 4. Just in time to probably announce the iPhone 5. Huzzah!

At least Apple had the good sense, and sense of humor, to acknowledge the chronological inanity of the ordeal: It announced the white iPhone 4's arrival on its website with a single word, "Finally." Unfortunately, that should've been "Finally.*" Because it turns out the white iPhone 4 is not simply a pasty twin of its black brother. No, it's thicker. Obviously thicker. By 0.2 mm. Enough to notice just by picking it up and enough, as MacRumors reported, to cause issues with some tight-fitting slider-style cases. Ruh-roh.

Why the added thickness? Presumably to keep people distracted from the iPhone location tracking non-issue. But that's just a guess based upon a conspiracy I overhead from a good source in my brain. Otherwise, those in the know aren't telling just yet. Or, at the very least, they aren't telling those who turn up in my Google searches.

But to me, it's a rather silly, meh issue for a rather silly, meh product. I mean, the white iPhone 4 looks nice, but was it worth the 10-month wait? Probably not. Either it became Jony Ives' Moby Dick, or it's an indication that the iPhone 5 will have the same form factor as the 4 and Apple didn't want to disappoint the Norse yet again.

Now, for the love of Job (the biblical one), can we get some exciting Apple news going? Where are the Sandy Bridge iMacs or Mac Pros? Confirmation of an A5-sporting iPhone 5? More details on the new Final Cut Suite? Info about OS X Lion that isn't just pointing out iOS touches that seem destined to annoy? An actual Apple TV?

Now is the springtime of my discontent. I want some power, boys. Preferably with a holographic coating that shifts from black to white at the simple execution of an eight-fingered multitouch gesture.

Later,

Fox

   
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