White iPhone Delays Blamed on the Display

Apple’s fourth generation iPhone appears to have lost its halo — at least for some. Its reception problems when held a certain way have dominated the news, and the delay of the white version of the handset will stretch out for months. We had speculated that the delay might be the result of an antenna fix, but Ashok Kumar of brokerage firm Rodman & Renshaw writes in a research note this morning that it’s likely a result of the display.

The gorgeous Retina display that offers 326 pixels per inch may be the issue, Kumar writes. Specifically, the way the light shines through the Gorilla glass display on the white phone is problematic because the white version of the display backing lets in more light than the black version, much like a white dress is more transparent than a black one. But the answer isn’t as simple as wearing a slip, says Kumar:

The display backlight seepage cannot be stemmed with a thicker backside coating as it could materially impact the display resolution. Apple appears to have a mechanical work around in place for the Antenna problem. But the light seepage issue surrounding the white iPhone4 could prove to be an intractable problem. Or stated differently, Apple and its ecosystem partners could eventually find a workaround but it could prove to be economically unfeasible.

Kumar told me that the white display issue, in addition to the antenna problems, may cause consumers to look more critically at Apple’s products. Since Apple has always had its vocal critics as well as its ardent fans, I’m not sure how much of a dent the lack of a promised white version might have, although I’m sure for a few fashion-conscious consumers, the lack of a white version will matter more than the chances for a dropped call as a result of the antenna placement.

Related GigaOM Pro research (sub req’d): For Phones, the Future is Multiple Cores

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