Apple Watch won't be available in Apple's retail stores until June at the earliest

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 2015
Walk-in purchases of the Apple Watch won't be available at Apple's retail stores until June at the earliest, as supply of the wrist-worn device will remain severely constrained, a new memo to employees from retail chief Angela Ahrendts has revealed.




Ahrendts's letter, shared by The Telegraph, revealed to Apple retail employees that not only will the Apple Watch not be available in stores on the April 24 launch day, but it also won't hit stores for the entire month of May. The Apple retail chief cited "high global interest combined with our initial supply" for the lack of availability.

"It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us," she wrote. "There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect --?and that we expect from ourselves -- we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping."

Ahrendts went on to say that not every product launch will be handled this way in the future, perhaps implying that products like the iPhone will continue to see limited in-store availability at launch, as the company has done in the past.

She also reminded employees that online orders still come with Apple's "Personal Setup" service. That means that users can bring their new Apple Watch into a store and work with an employee to learn about how to sync and use the device with their iPhone.

Preorders for the Apple Watch began online last Friday, and the initial supply sold out almost immediately. New orders for most models are not available to ship until June.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated this week that preorders for the Apple Watch have likely reached 2.3 million units. Low supply for launch models has been blamed on limited availability of the device's new haptic vibrator and advanced OLED screen.

While the Apple Watch can't be bought in stores, customers can get a hands-on preview with the hardware by appointment or walk-in. Non-functional Apple Watch units can be tried on the wrist with a variety of models and bands, while operational units are also available on fixed displays at retail.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    I wish I had Apples problems.
  • Reply 2 of 77
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    They will be holding their collective breath at Apple now, hoping that on the 24th (which until a few hours ago was advertised as Launch Day) there aren't lines of people outside the stores.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    ascii wrote: »
    They will be holding their collective breath at Apple now, hoping that on the 24th (which until a few hours ago was advertised as Launch Day) there aren't lines of people outside the stores.

    Perhaps when people don't see rope lines outside the store entrance they'll get a clue there's nothing to line up for. Or perhaps with social media, the internet and word of mouth people will have heard no stock in store on the 24th.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member

    Apple should've just released a statement so people know about it. What's with all this internal memo crap. Just make a statement. 

  • Reply 5 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

     

    Apple should've just released a statement so people know about it. What's with all this internal memo crap. Just make a statement. 


     

    I suspect there IS a statement coming. Apple just did the service of telling its employees first. What a crime. 

  • Reply 6 of 77
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,015member
    Meanwhile AAPL seems to have been unusually stable for a the entire pre, during and post cranky news reports that always accompany a major new Apple product launch. Is this the result of the DOW around AAPL's neck or some other factor at work here?

    I am still waiting for the "but ... but .. this is a trick to make people rush to buy before they are all gone / Or / this proves it's a failure as this is an excuse for low sales, they really have plenty" :D
  • Reply 7 of 77

    The real reason they are not selling watches in the stores is that Apple is "learning" what models sell in each specific area. There are simply too many models to stock in each store and there is a high risk of oversupply and undersupply of each model which leads to even more shortages. Once Apple has a better handle on what to stock at each store, they will begin selling there.

  • Reply 8 of 77
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,405member

    I'm curious as to the main reason behind the initially limited inventory. Did demand significantly surpass Apple's expectations? Did Apple encounter production or yield issues that unexpectedly constrained supply? Or was the production ramp up just weeks behind schedule?

  • Reply 9 of 77
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

     

    The real reason they are not selling watches in the stores is that Apple is "learning" what models sell in each specific area. There are simply too many models to stock in each store and there is a high risk of oversupply and undersupply of each model which leads to even more shortages. Once Apple has a better handle on what to stock at each store, they will begin selling there.




    I'm not sure that this is a major factor. Initial sales are likely to be skewed by the preferences of early adopters, and the sales mix may change substantially afterwards.

  • Reply 10 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Meanwhile AAPL seems to have been unusually stable for a the entire pre, during and post cranky news reports that always accompany a major new Apple product launch. Is this the result of the DOW around AAPL's neck or some other factor at work here?

    I am still waiting for the "but ... but .. this is a trick to make people rush to buy before they are all gone / Or / this proves it's a failure as this is an excuse for low sales, they really have plenty" :D

    Because this is just "noise" on rumor sites. The last press release from Apple specifically said the watch would be available online-only during the launch period.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    freediverx wrote: »
    I'm curious as to the main reason behind the initially limited inventory. Did demand significantly surpass Apple's expectations? Did Apple encounter production or yield issues that unexpectedly constrained supply? Or was the production ramp up just weeks behind schedule?

    Tim hates inventory, and from what I've seen the initial numbers have been unexpectedly skewed in certain directions. Something like 65% of Sport sales were for the all black model, while blue, pink and green were about 5% each.. Starting off with online only preorders and sales helps them to get the SKU ratio correct.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

     

    The real reason they are not selling watches in the stores is that Apple is "learning" what models sell in each specific area. There are simply too many models to stock in each store and there is a high risk of oversupply and undersupply of each model which leads to even more shortages. Once Apple has a better handle on what to stock at each store, they will begin selling there.


     

    I agree completely with this. It was obvious from the pre-order they anticipated way more 38mm models than they should have. Some of them are still 4-6 weeks.

  • Reply 13 of 77
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

     

    The real reason they are not selling watches in the stores is that Apple is "learning" what models sell in each specific area. There are simply too many models to stock in each store and there is a high risk of oversupply and undersupply of each model which leads to even more shortages. Once Apple has a better handle on what to stock at each store, they will begin selling there.




    Finally, a reasonable piece of conjecture!

  • Reply 14 of 77
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,712member

    Occam’s Razor... All things being equal the simplest answer tends to be the correct one. So what is the simplest answer to explain the “constrained” meme?

     

    1. Apple vastly underestimated the demand for the new product and simply didn’t make enough.

     

    2. The rumors about production problems are true.

     

    3. The entire situation was engineered to create hype, stoke demand, stay in the headlines.

  • Reply 14 of 77
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    ascii wrote: »
    They will be holding their collective breath at Apple now, hoping that on the 24th (which until a few hours ago was advertised as Launch Day) there aren't lines of people outside the stores.
    Didn't Apple have select third party boutique retail partners? I've been trying to go back and find the articles that said which they would be but can't find it. I remember one jewelry store in Los Angeles in particular.

    I recall in many of the statements from Apple about release day, that the watch would be available in the Apple Stores to preview on the 10th, and would be available at their retail partners on the 24th. So does this mean, those third party retailers will actually have some inventory? And who are they besides the major foreign Apple stores within a store they have set up in places like Selfridges, et al? Why not more coverage for launch day partners, or is Apple letting the third party merchants contact their customers discreetly?

    I've been following this daily, but I have to admit I'm really confused as to exactly what's happening.
  • Reply 16 of 77
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by freediverx View Post

     



    I'm not sure that this is a major factor. Initial sales are likely to be skewed by the preferences of early adopters, and the sales mix may change substantially afterwards.




    Early adopters' preferences are just as valid as later adopters'. With an emphasis on online orders, Apple will have more immediate data to which they can respond more quickly and dynamically.

  • Reply 17 of 77

    As a product manufacturer, especially when the product you're making does not have a competitive or existing track record, launch quantities and product mix are effectively set by someone (or multiple people) guessing at the numbers.  Even Apple works this way.  Sure, there might be some computer models used to help refine numbers, but at the end of the day, they're still simply weighing their guess against production capacity.  When they have a hit product, like they did with the iPhone 6 / 6+ and now the Watch, they move from the guess stage to real numbers as a guide.

     

    What they're seeing for pre-orders is going to change their production runs over the next 90 days, in order to shift (if a shift indeed happened) from their guesstimate numbers to actual and even these numbers will change again as they move from launch customers to both new markets and deeper penetration within existing markets.

     

    I'm kind of surprised they didn't make the three basic models available as items unto themselves, then offer bands as a separate item, so that they could focus and not try to manage the various combinations.  But I also understand that they want to keep some continuity of expectation for how watches are sold in the market and no other manufacturer is pushing the watch separately from the band.

  • Reply 18 of 77
    danielswdanielsw Posts: 905member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by freediverx View Post

     

    I'm curious as to the main reason behind the initially limited inventory. Did demand significantly surpass Apple's expectations? Did Apple encounter production or yield issues that unexpectedly constrained supply? Or was the production ramp up just weeks behind schedule?




    So, what would you do with the answers to these if you had them? Not much, of course. So why bother with them at all?

     

    The watches will come when they come. After all, we have been waiting for this product for years without even knowing that it was coming or that we were waiting. So what difference does a few more weeks or months make? None.

  • Reply 19 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    lkrupp wrote: »
    Occam’s Razor... All things being equal the simplest answer tends to be the correct one. So what is the simplest answer to explain the “constrained” meme?

    1. Apple vastly underestimated the demand for the new product and simply didn’t make enough.

    2. The rumors about production problems are true.

    3. The entire situation was engineered to create hype, stoke demand, stay in the headlines.

    One and two are possible maybe even probable. But three is ridiculous. Apple hardly needs to create hype or intentionally constrain supply to stoke demand. You can't sell a product you don't have and you can't assume people will wait for your product and not buy something else (or nothing at all) instead.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    jmgregory1 wrote: »
    I'm kind of surprised they didn't make the three basic models available as items unto themselves, then offer bands as a separate item, so that they could focus and not try to manage the various combinations.  But I also understand that they want to keep some continuity of expectation for how watches are sold in the market and no other manufacturer is pushing the watch separately from the band.

    Who sells watches without a band? No one. I suppose Apple could have just sold all watches with white and black sport band and made all the other bands optional 'accessories'. But that would be quite boring. And then most people would probably never buy another band as the sport band would be "good enough". Once Apple gets through this initial launch period and backlog they'll have a better idea of which models are most popular and how much of each to have in store.
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