The colour of money – why Apple's rediscovered the rainbow

After years of monochrome handsets, Apple's set to unveil a veritable rainbow of colourful iPhones. Here's why
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Apple's reportedly gearing up to release a budget iPhone in a range of different colours, with images purporting to show a green handset popping up in China.

But why has Cupertino suddenly developed a taste for the rainbow, after a decade of selling us iPhones in any colour as long as it's black (or, latterly, white)? 

Apple rainbow: colour is a natural move

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It was colour that put the iMac on the map in 1998 after Jonathan Ive took a trip to a boiled sweet factory and developed a taste for translucent colours. More recently, he's daubed the iPod Touch in a range of different hues. But it's the reinvented iOS 7 software that's paved the way for a colourful iPhone, with its flat blocks of bright colour: “extending that into hardware is the next logical move” says designer David Fisher of

Colour in austerity

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Nokia Lumia 920

"There’s an appetite for colour in times of austerity," says Fisher. "People like to celebrate through their products – people need that release and colour is a proven trend in entertainment." It’s not that Apple ever left colour when it went to monochrome for the iPhone and iPad, he adds. It was just that “those devices focused completely on content. It’s a natural step to come back to colour.” 

In that respect, Apple's following in the footsteps of its rivals. It's Nokia that's driven the trend for brightly coloured handsets – ironically, as a way to differentiate itself from Apple. "Nokia went for colour to differentiate it from the monochrome of Apple, and now Apple's reacting to that," says Fisher. "A virtuous loop, in a way."

Plastic fantastic

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Of course the rumoured colour iPhones are reportedly plastic, budget phones – and there are no signs that the iPhone 6 (or iPhone 5S, depending on who you believe) will be anything other than monochromatic.

Colourful options make sense for cheaper phones, where Apple has to cast its net over a larger market. “It gives Apple a wider demographic," says Fisher. "But of course you don’t have to choose a colour – the conservative option will never go away.”

[Main image: Facebook]