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Apple's Phil Schiller explains why the white iPhone 4 took so long

Apple is starting to sell its white iPhone 4 today, so what caused the delay? According to the company's senior vice president, it's all about the material science and the sensors.

Rejoice, people. Rejoice. No, not because a rich woman with lovely hair is getting hitched to an even richer man with rapidly disappearing hair tomorrow. Rejoice because today sees Apple's white iPhone 4 finally go on sale, as was announced yesterday. So what took it so long? In a rare move, the company has been explaining why in an interview.

All Things Digital chatted to Apple SVP Phil Schiller and CEO Steve Jobs about the white iPhone 4, as well as a separate announcement about Apple's policy on location tracking. So why has it taken not far short of a year to get the white handset on to the shelves?

"It was challenging," Schiller tells journalist Ina Fried. "It's not as simple as making something white. There's a lot more that goes into both the material science of it -- how it holds up over time... but also in how it all works with the sensors... We thought we were there a year ago, or less than that, when we launched the iPhone 4, and we weren't."

Fried paraphrases Schiller's description of "a lot of unexpected interactions between the colour of the device and various internal components", while also alluding to the white iPhone 4 requiring more UV protection from the sun. Which brings an image to mind of crack teams of Apple staffers applying a coat of Factor 25 to the device before it was allowed out of the factory. Slippy.

Meanwhile, Jobs gave a separate explanation of how Apple has responded to accusations that it's tracking and storing location data on iPhone users, which were first made last week. "We're an engineering-driven company. When people accuse us of things, the first thing we want to do is find out the truth. That took a certain amount of time to track all of these things down. And the accusations were coming day by day.

"By the time we had figured this all out, it took a few days. Then writing it up and trying to make it intelligible when this is a very high-tech topic took a few days. And here we are less than a week later."

The company published its Q&A document yesterday claiming that it's not tracking users individually, but rather harvesting data on the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding them -- although it admitted that storing this data on the iPhone in a form that can be accessed externally was a bug.

"As new technology comes into the society there is a period of adjustment and education. We haven't, as an industry, done a very good job educating people, I think, as to some of the more subtle things going on here," continued Jobs.

"As such, (people) jumped to a lot of wrong conclusions in the last week. I think the right time to educate people is when there is no problem. I think we will probably ask ourselves how we can do some of that, as an industry."

In short, you're scolding them wrong.