(CNN) -- On the day Apple debuted the oft-delayed white-colored iPhone 4, the company's marketing department gave a nod to the product's troubled history.
"Finally," read the big headline Thursday above a picture of the elusive white phone on the homepage of Apple.com.
The white model was supposed to ship alongside the black one at the iPhone 4's launch last June. But design and manufacturing complications delayed the process by 10 months, catching Apple off guard, executives say.
As CNN reported last month, earlier test models of the white iPhone 4 produced blurry photos, especially when the flash was used. Its whiteness confused the proximity sensor, which detects when the phone is held next to someone's head and turns off the touchscreen to preserve battery life and prevent apps from being opened accidentally.
These issues weren't present in older iPhones that came in white because they didn't have flash photography; the proximity sensor was unaffected because the front side of previous models was black. The iPad 2 also lacks a flash, and few people attempt to hold a tablet up to their heads.
Philip Schiller, Apple's chief marketing executive, described the white iPhone 4's development as "challenging" in an interview this week with the website All Things Digital.
"We thought we were there a year ago, or less than that, when we launched the iPhone 4, and we weren't," Schiller said in that interview. "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."
In an Apple statement this week, Schiller said: "We appreciate everyone who has waited patiently while we've worked to get every detail right."
Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White predicts that the white model could help drive sales of Apple's phones. He says Apple could sell 1 million to 1.5 million every three months until the next iPhone model is unveiled, which is expected to be this fall.
"This delay has created a certain mystique and scarcity value around the 'white' iPhone 4," White wrote in a report. "The purchase of consumer electronic devices is not always a completely rational decision, and people buy Apple products for many different reasons, including status, aesthetics, functionality, quality and the 'cool factor.'"
Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears to be aware of the fuss surrounding white models of his company's gadgets. Last month Jobs made a subtle joke when he unveiled the iPad 2, which comes in both white and black.
For the iPad 2, "we'll be shipping white from Day One," he said with emphasis, to laughs from the audience.
Forty-five people were lined up at Apple's flagship New York store Thursday morning to buy white iPhones, according to a CNNMoney report. They joined the others who were waiting for a shot at the limited supply of iPad 2s, a product that's still drawing morning crowds seven weeks after its release.