White iPhone 4 preorder is 'unavailable.' But why?

Apple won't allow white iPhone 4 preorder sales. Its only explanation: the company is working 'as quickly as we can.'

White iPhone 4 will arrive Thursday, according to Apple. Pictured, the ordering page from last summer.

Among the several issues plaguing the iPhone preorder process on Tuesday lies the curious question: Where are all of the white iPhone 4 models?

Shoppers hoping for an alabaster and steel iPhone met a cryptic roadblock. "White iPhone currently unavailable for pre-order or in-store pickup," says the Apple.com store. No word on when they'll become available. No word on why.

The San Francisco Chronicle asked Apple directly and got an equally vague response. "There is tremendous excitement for the new iPhone 4 and we are working to get as many of them into the hands of customers as possible," the unnamed Apple rep tells the Chronicle. "At launch, we have the black models available for purchase and we will be adding the white models as quickly as we can."

This absence wasn't entirely unexpected. On Monday, Engadget reported on a rumor that AT&T stores would only stock three iPhone models at first: The black iPhone 3G S, and the two black iPhone 4 SKUs. The white 3G S has been discontinued, apparently. And the white iPhone 4s would be "available later this summer," according to AT&T. Again, no specifics.

This seems like an odd move for Apple, the company that made all-white computers chic. Then again, it has had problems keeping up with demand in the past.

Could this be a sign that Apple loves one of its kids more than the other? The company's super-modern aesthetic means that it often latches on to certain design ideas and throws away everything that came before it. Steve Jobs embraced berry-flavored iMacs, then dumped color for all-white computers. Next came metal bodies. Now, Apple mixes steel with black hues. This new mandate encompasses the MacBook Pro, iMac, its LED monitors, and iPhone preorder models. The brand new Mac Mini enjoys a touch of black, but remains mostly metal. The only white holdouts seem to be the budget MacBooks and these delayed white iPhone 4.

It's just a guess, but the Chronicle article hypothesized on why the fairer-skinned iPhone 4s may be lagging behind. "There's obviously a production problem somewhere. Apple will start offering the white iPhone 4 when it can," writes the newspaper. "We assume this will be before launch day, June 24, but don't know."

IN PICTURES: Apple's iCandy

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