There's nothing better than having a wide range of choices when you go into a carrier store for upgrade time. (Okay, I can think of a few things that are better.) And in today's market, there is no shortage of options. Phones come in different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, weights, with different mobile platforms and are made by different manufacturers. There is also quite a selection when it comes to specifications. But there is one unique feature in recent handsets that no manufacturer can seem to get the hang of: colors.
The vast majority of smartphones nowadays are drab blacks and gunmetal grays. That's not necessarily a bad thing; dark colors are fine, and I actually prefer a black and gray device over anything else. But every now and then, it's nice to switch it up a bit and pick a different color.
The problem is, phones now come with a very short shelf life. It's only a matter of weeks (or a few short months) before most phones slip into oblivion. The DROID 3, for instance, just launched in July. Only six months later, there is talk of a successor and the DROID 3 being phased into End of Life status. The LG Revolution, which launched in May of 2011, is right there with it.
Nonetheless, OEMs continue to churn out colored versions of popular handsets several months after they hit the market. As an example, the DROID Incredible 2 made its first appearance in April of 2011, yet the red version of the Incredible 2 didn't release until late November. Likewise, the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch launched on Sprint in September and the white version will seemingly launch this Sunday. And the DROID 2 launched in August of 2010, followed by an R2-D2 version in September and a white, global variant in November. Oh, the same happened with the DROID RAZR, too.
Possibly the best example that comes to mind, though, is the iPhone 4. Originally, it was supposed to come in both black and white at launch in June 2010 – this would have been exactly what every manufacturer should aim to do. However, Apple ran into some manufacturing problems and the white iPhone 4 did not release until February 2011, a painstaking 8-month wait in the dark for wanting buyers. (Imagine working as a wireless consultant at the time and trying to explain to already-irate customers that their pre-orders were not going to be fulfilled and having no explanation as to why.)
With the exception of the iPhone 4 (as far as we're led to believe at least), manufacturers' reasoning behind launching a different color of an existing device months after the original release date is assumed to be a last-ditch effort to breathe some life into a quickly fading phone.
If OEMs weren't currently releasing five or six flagships per quarter, I could possibly see how this might make sense. I remember the kind of fanfare a different colored BlackBerry would make back in the day, and it still does to a degree. But by the time an OEM and carrier launch a different colored version of an already-launched phone, chances are, they've already launched a different, newer phone as well.
I woke up this morning to two stories about white phones: the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch coming in a white variant come Sunday and the Galaxy Nexus coming in a white flavor in February. In the Galaxy Nexus' defense, it is rumored to be launching in the US on AT&T in February. A black and white version of the Nexus could launch at the same time on AT&T in the States, which would be fantastic. But why didn't Samsung and Google launch a white version of the LTE Galaxy Nexus or unlocked international version? I'm assuming it's for the same reason they did this very thing with the Nexus S on AT&T last year.
Oh, how this grinds my gears! And I don't even know why. I don't generally like white phones (especially not the Galaxy Nexus), yet it gets under my skin how these manufacturers manage to continually botch this and launch different versions of the "same" phone months apart while giving some carriers exclusives. The only way this wouldn't be so bad is if carriers and OEMs made it known that there would be a white variant within weeks of the launch of the black version. That, or this whole thing could be avoided by just launching everything at the same time. Apparently, that just makes too much sense or is too convenient, though.
When is comes down to it, launching two different color options at different times is only good for making existing owners mad. If you had just purchased an Epic 4G Touch and a white version launched just weeks later, wouldn't it make you at least a little upset? And what about you, LTE or unlocked Galaxy Nexus owners? Doesn't a white version make you at least a little envious?
Image via SlashGear