"After the Touch, they'll know which colors sell the best, how to juggle the inventory," said White, as well as solving any manufacturing problems. "Colors will make it tougher for competitors, because Apple will do [colors] well. Look how long it took to do the white iPhone," White said, referring to the 2011 addition to the iPhone's Henry Ford-esque black-only selection. "Think of it as a learning phase for adding colors to the iPhone."
Apple released the white iPhone about 10 months after first announcing it.
White also placed his bet on a release date of May or June for the next iPhone, echoing at least one other analyst. In mid-December, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek predicted Apple would break tradition by shipping a new smartphone in June 2013.
Like Misek, White applied the "iPhone 5S" moniker to the still-only-rumored model, but said he was "very confident" that he had the timeline right.
"June -- I've also said May to be on the safe side -- makes more sense," White said. "Samsung, which is really Apple's only competition at this point, generally comes out with theirs around then."
Waiting until September or October, as it has done for the last two years, has put Apple at a disadvantage versus Samsung, White argued.
He also thought a move to May or June could mean Apple would dump the iPhone's annual refresh, a practice it's stuck to since the first model launched in 2007. "I don't think [multiple refreshes] are crazy," said White. "It may not be every six months, but Apple is ramping production faster each year, so it's possible they could launch in May, then again in the fall."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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