While speaking to Mobilizer about location data, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and SVP of Marketing, Phil Schiller, explained the 10 month delay in launching the white iPhone 4.
“It was challenging. 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."
As previously rumored, the color caused complications with the internal components (like the proximity sensor, perhaps the camera and flash?) and was also subject to discoloration from UV rays.
Steve Jobs added that solving the problem allowed Apple to launch a white iPad, so it benefitted Apple in the long run.
So, is it better Apple took their time to get it right? We'll see once we get our hands on one!