Is the White iPhone 4 being Held Back by Apathy?

by Chris Seibold Feb 11, 2011

Fermat's last theorem was proved in 1984 using all kinds of mathematical trickery, a ton of computer time and probably a PowerPoint presentation. It really doesn't matter how it was finally solved only that it was. Of interest is what other things happened during the time Fermat's last theorem was proposed to the time it was finally solved.

The highlights:

Newtonian mechanics (1687)

Evolution (1859)

Maxwell's Equations (1873)

Theory of Relativity (1915)

Fermat's Last Theorem, which he supposedly had an elegant proof for, took centuries to solve. As the quick list shows the world of science made grand strides while people kept banging away on the seemingly intractable problem.

Apparently, manufacturing a white iPhone is Apple's equivalent of Fermat's Last Theorem. Sure, it's been less than a year, but in our fast paced world that seems like centuries. Creating the new generation of iPhones in white must be a really hard problem to solve because Apple has made a ton of strides since it was originally slated to show up. How about another quick list:

iPod fourth gen September 9, 2010

MacBook Air October 20, 2010

Mac App Store January 6, 2011

Verizon iPhone (still black) February 10, 2011

None of Apple's advancements are as earth-shattering as The Origin of Species, obviously. But it indicates that a white fourth generation iPhone may be a nearly intractable problem.

That seems odd. The first iPhones came in white or black, why would it be so hard to make them white now? The rumored problem is something to do with the flash on the iPhone 4 and the common thing to think is "there's no Flash on an iPhone!" which is true, but it was the camera flash. In that case you naturally think, "Hey, slap another coat of titanium white on it and call it a day." But it must be more complicated than that. One imagines if the problem was that easy to solve Apple would have solved it.

So it must be a difficult problem, right? Maybe not. The weird thing that both the white iPhone 4 and Fermat's Last Theorem share is that not many people care. Fermat's Last Theorem was a mathematical oddity. Something that mathematicians loved to play with but nothing anyone imagined was financially useful down the road. The white iPhone 4 is in the same boat. There are a few people interested in it, but it obviously isn't holding iPhone sales back.

Perhaps the thing keeping the white iPhone from mass production is simply apathy. Why pour resources into something that not that many people want? And those that do want it don't want it bad enough to wait? Sure there is a clever solution to the problem, but why look for a clever solution when only three people care if you find one?      



  • I’ve decided the white issue is due to the iPad. I know, I’m probably wrong…

    The iPad screen is smaller than a printed page. But if the edges of the iPad are all in white, then the printed page can be right to the edge of the iPad screen. It’ll look like a bigger page, and the white borders of the iPad will add to the page, rather than detract from the iPad’s look.

    That’s my bet anyway… they’re holding back so they can surprise with the next iPad.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Feb 14, 2011 Posts: 228
  • Fermat’s last theorem was proved by Andrew Wiles around 1995 and he did not use a ton of computer time nor a Power Point presentation.  He mostly used pen, paper and black (or white) board.  The theorem that was famously proved using a computer is the Four Colour Theorem and it was solved in 1976.

    tundraboy had this to say on Feb 14, 2011 Posts: 132
  • more than apathy i think it’s marketing that holds the launch back. Nice insight.

    Boticas en Lima had this to say on Feb 14, 2011 Posts: 1
  • I know a number of people that are waiting to buy the iPhone when it comes out in white, but i believe Apple is working on the problem.  But question is -  do they launch now? or wait until the iPhone 5?

    MacToTheFuture had this to say on Feb 20, 2011 Posts: 1
  • More mobile phones are being advertised. Big companies have developed a fully equipped gadgets that surely caters customers wants and need in an iphone.

    Philips Norelco 1290x/40 SensoTouch 3d Electric Shaver

    gerry had this to say on Mar 09, 2011 Posts: 1
  • Just like the black model, the white iPhone 4 has a glass front and back and a stainless steel metal banding around the sides.  Its shape is very like the original iPad. Perhaps because of the size and weight of the iPad, I found that shape a little uncomfortable to hold, but I think it works really well for the much smaller iPhone 4. 

    Yochanan Berkowitz

    Ana had this to say on Aug 16, 2011 Posts: 76
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