Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) kicked off its preorder period for Apple Watch at midnight Thursday/Friday morning, taking orders at its online store and at resellers in China and Japan. The company will begin shipping the first watches on April 24, but early Friday morning the delivery time for most Apple Watch models we checked is now listed at four to six weeks, and some models have no indicated delivery time.
It is always hard to tell when a brand new, highly anticipated product like the Apple Watch finally gets to the market whether the extended delivery times are related to limited supply or overwhelming demand. With new Apple hardware, though, it is almost always a demand issue. In a press release issued Thursday, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, said:
Based on the tremendous interest from people visiting our stores, as well as the number of customers who have gone to the Apple Online Store to mark their favorite Apple Watch ahead of availability, we expect that strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch. To provide the best experience and selection to as many customers as we can, we will be taking orders for Apple Watch exclusively online during the initial launch period.
Customers can line up at Apple’s retail stores to gawk at the watches, but if they want to order a watch right now, they must place the orders online. Appointments for try-on in an Apple retail store can be made either at the store or online. Apple’s new senior vice-president apparently wants to change the buying “experience” to something more like visiting Tiffany’s rather than lining up for a door-buster sale at the local dollar store.
The 38mm and 42mm Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band Apple Watch Sports, which sells for $349, will not ship to customers until June.
The $1,099 42mm Space Black Case with Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet, an Apple Watch model, is not available for shipment until July. The smaller 38mm version of the same watch is available to ship in June.
Apple Watch Edition models, which sell for $10,000 or more, are generally available for shipping in June and July. Some, like the 38mm 18-Karat Rose Gold Case with Rose Gray Modern Buckle, which carries a price tag of $17,000, do not have a listed shipment date.