In many ways, Apple is a victim of its own tremendous success. Because the company sells tens of millions of iPhones every quarter, anything it does must be a grand slam in order to make a dent in the bottom line.
And so it goes with the Apple Watch, which looks like was pre-ordered well over 1 million times this weekend (depending on which estimate you believe) and effectively “sold out” within six hours, with shipping times on all watches drifting more than a month from now. My own Apple Watch order (for a black 42mm Sport), which I placed on Friday evening, isn’t expected to be filled until June.
But just because the Apple Watch isn’t likely to goose the bottom line by as much as some investors might like, does that mean Apple doesn’t have a hit on its hands?
Isn’t selling a million of something–that most customers have never even touched, mind you–an impressive feat on its own? Many of Apple’s smartwatch-building competitors have never sold a million of their watches in months, never mind in four days. And those orders will just keep coming in as more-cautious buyers head to Apple’s Retail Stores and try on the watches, deciding that they’re quite lovely indeed and order one.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise–the Apple Watch is a hit. When you launch a product in April, and you won’t be able to fill the orders for two months, you have a hit (or your fulfillment system is atrocious, which we know isn’t true in Apple’s case).
On the other hand, perhaps Apple is pulling that old Disney World trick and estimating deliveries much further out than necessary. Then they can “magically” ship them much sooner and make buyers happy. Disney famously did this when they had lines at popular rides, saying it would take 45 minutes from a particular point, when the wait might actually only be 15 or 20 minutes.
According to a reader at MacRumors, a member of Apple’s executive support team said that pre-orders expected in June “would most likely ship sooner than June,” but Apple is giving such an extended ship date to give themselves room in case they have trouble meeting their more aggressive, internal shipping goals.
Then the MacRumors piece goes on to note that the 4/24 launch date, advertised heavily by Apple, may have been a mistake. Since Apple has been pushing online pre-orders for the Watch, it’s possible that Retail Stores won’t have any watches at all on “launch day,” meaning the company will not have its signature long lines that attract so much media attention–or, perhaps worse, the lines will still be there, but with hundreds of unhappy customers who can’t buy watches.
It’s odd then, that Apple’s biggest problem with the Apple Watch launch is that they’ve sold every watch they can make and don’t appear to have any to sell to customers who didn’t pre-order.
But don’t think for a second that any of Apple’s competitors wouldn’t trade places. Selling every unit you can make? The biggest problem there is figuring out how to make more.
Have you tried on an Apple Watch at an Apple Retail Store? What did you think? Let us know your impressions in the comments below.