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White iPhone Delay Traced to Chinese Glass Manufacturer

Apple has had a lot on its hands lately. The infamous death grip, Consumer Reports refusing to endorse the phone, and Steve Jobs’ pseudo apology that turned into an Oprah-like free giveaway, only with bumpers rather than cars.  So it isn’t that surprising that the delay of the white iPhone 4 has somewhat faded from the list of priorities, leaving those waiting for it to wonder when it might see the light of day. Originally teased as a launch option, Apple continues to dangle the white iPhone in front of customers, while simultaneously redefining vague on when the phone will actually hit the shelves.

The day before the iPhone launch, Apple issued a press release stating that due to “manufacturing difficulties”, the white iPhone would not be available at launch, but would likely be out in mid-July. As July began and customers continued to ask for it, the phone slipped further into the month, and a second press release claimed a late July ship date. Now, it seems possible that another delay is imminent, and even if it isn’t, there might not be enough white iPhones manufactured to fill even half of the demand.

Engadget is reporting that the “manufacturing difficulties” lie with the Chinese manufacturer, Lens Technology, the glass manufacturer responsible for the iPhone touchscreen touchscreen. The Chinese manufacturer handles all aspects of the glass manufacturing, from the cutting of the raw material, to screen printing, to the anti shatter treatments. According to the report, a Lens Technology employee is claiming that the delay is a result of a problem with the screen-printing. Specifically, there have been issues in attempting to find the perfect combination of paint thickness and opacity. The paint thickness ensures that the next sub-contractor has room for the digitizer overlay, while the opacity is required to get the exact level of whiteness that Apple wants.

According to the report, even if Apple can get the phone out on time, there is likely to be an issue with filling the demand. An industry insider supposedly told the Chinese newspaper 21st Century Business Herald that Lens Technology’s current production capacity meets only half of the demand. Currently, the default black iPhone 4 has a listed wait time of three weeks on the Apple Store’s website, while the option to purchase or pre-order a white iPhone has been removed altogether. Apple fans looking for the white iPhone could be in for a long wait.