When Tim Cook first unveiled the Apple Watch this past September, nailing down a release date for the device quickly became a murky mess. At first, all we heard was that the device would launch in early 2015. This, of course, provided no particular guidance as the launch window could have been anywhere from January to June.
Then the rumor mill got to work. First we heard reports that Apple was aiming to launch the device in early February. Once that came and went, we started hearing rumblings about a launch in early March. Then, finally, Apple finally put all rumors to rest when it announced a release date of April 24 at its second Apple Watch event
When Apple Watch pre-orders opened up this past Friday, the hotly anticipated wearable sold out in just 6 hours. That’s all well and good, but even folks who managed to hit the “order” button quickly after pre-orders opened were greeted with shipping times of 4-6 weeks, meaning that some folks who stayed up late to get an Apple Watch won’t even get their device until mid-May at the earliest. Some of the lucky folks have shipping windows of April 24 through May 8.
The availability problem is even worse for consumers who place an Apple Watch order today. As it stands now, all 10 variations of the aluminum Apple Watch with the Sport Band won’t ship until June. As for the 20 variations of the stainless steel Apple Watch, 7 of them are shipping within 4-6 weeks, 12 are shipping in June, and 1 — the Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet — won’t ship until July. Meanwhile, all 8 variations of the Apple Watch Edition aren’t shipping until June.
In sum, 31 out of the 38 Apple Watch variations won’t be shipping until June or later. For a device that was first announced in September, that’s an extremely long delay. And while that may be par for the course for some companies who like to tease consumers with upcoming products, that’s not how Apple typically operates, a fact that former Apple ad guru Ken Segall couldn’t help but notice himself.
Taking a strong stance, Segall writes that Apple’s April 24 launch date is wholly misleading. And truthfully, it’s hard to disagree.
Apparently, very few models of Apple Watch were ever scheduled to ship on April 24th. The Apple Watch Sport (likely the most popular model) appeared to be unavailable from the first moment — with a delay that will likely be a full month.
Nothing enhances the customer experience like plain, simple honesty. Apple has known all along what models would be available in what quantities. There was no reason to lead people to a false expectation.
What Apple did feels “tricky,” which is never a good thing. Even today, Apple’s homepage says “Available April 24th.” Available in the sense that you can see one in the store, perhaps, but certainly not in the common use of the word.
A lot of this is just common sense. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that a company will create bad feelings when it hypes a product for months and then changes expectations at the very last second. Literally. It feels manipulative.
Without question, the Apple Watch rollout is the most staggered and confusing Apple product launch we’ve seen yet.
In Apple’s defense, launching a completely new product is not an easy feat, especially one as involved and complex as the Apple Watch. Often, it takes some time to work out all the manufacturing kinks. What’s more, because the Apple Watch is so new, Apple doesn’t yet have a gauge as to which models might be the most popular. Which is to say, it would make sense for Apple to slowly but surely ramp up supply once they get a better grasp on which models will be in high demand.
That’s all well and good, but as Segall relays himself, throwing out an April 24 launch when most people interested in the device may have to wait until June (or May if they’re lucky) seems like a bad joke.