Trevor Stinson

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Reflecting on Apple's colors

It is widely reported that Apple will be introducing colorful iPhones tomorrow. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it seems likely. Apart from alleged leaked parts and widespread rumors, this seems historically inevitable. Most people today probably think of white, black, and silver when they think of Apple products, but the idea that Apple doesn’t do colorful products couldn’t be further from the truth.

VintageZen has already published a great rundown of Apple’s history with color, so I’m not going to try to be comprehensive here. I just want to touch on a few highlights.

Bondi Blue

One of the first products Steve Jobs introduced after returning to Apple was the iMac G3. That original iMac debuted in Bondi Blue and is credited with saving the company. The iMac was soon available in five colors.

Anodized iPods

Perhaps the best-known colorful Apple products are from the iPod line. The white iPod was already iconic, but sales really took off when Apple introduced the cheaper iPod mini that was available in a variety of colors. It’ll be interesting to see if cheaper, colorful iPhones have a similar impact. I’d like to say yes, but even a cheap phone is still expensive if purchased unlocked without a contract—and if it’s obtained for “free,” then the contract itself is expensive. (If a phone is genuinely cheap all around, then there’s a good chance it’s not worth buying.)

The colorful iPods (mini, nano, and shuffle) have all been anodized aluminum as far as I’m aware. This same process is also used on Apple’s less-colorful products.

Gold is a cultural thing

In addition to the rumors of colorful cheap iPhones, it is also expected that Apple will release a gold (or “champagne”) iPhone, presumably as a variant of the highest-end flagship model. I’ve heard a lot of Americans mocking the idea of a gold iPhone, and that doesn’t surprise me. I think it would be great if the gold iPhone is only made available in specific markets where gold is a better cultural fit. A China-only gold iPhone would be a good way for Apple to communicate to Chinese customers that their market is not an afterthought.