Apple Says Being ‘Bombarded’ With Inquiries on Watch Arrival

Various Apple Watches in the new display table.

Various Apple Watches in the new display table.

Photographer: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Apple Inc. is trying to reduce confusion over how customers can purchase its first new device in five years.

The Apple Watch, which officially goes on sale April 24, won’t initially be available for purchase in stores, a break from how the tech company has introduced past products. Instead Apple will continue to accept purchases only online, as it has since pre-orders began earlier this month, according to Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail and online stores.

“We know you’re being bombarded by questions from customers,” Ahrendts said in a company video Tuesday. “Will you have product in the store for purchase on the 24th? This is why last week we announced that due to the high global interest and the initial supply, that we would only be taking orders online right now.”

Ahrendts and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook are trying change the shopping experience for buyers seeking to get their hands on the smartwatch, which goes on sale in eight countries and Hong Kong later this week. To do that, Apple is departing from its usual practice of flooding stores and courier vans with new products and instead is deliberately changing the buying process for the smartwatch, which has more options for customization than a typical Apple product.

“This is just a very unique situation,” Ahrendts said in the video, which was first reported by French enthusiast website Mac4Ever. “The Watch is an entirely new category. It’s much more personal with all of the different options. We really wanted the customer to work with you so you could guide them, take the time to get the one they wanted and by doing it online we could make sure that we get them the best service and the one they want the most efficiently.”

Blockbuster Launches

Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

While Apple began taking Web pre-orders on April 10, with deliveries beginning on April 24, shipment times quickly pushed passed that date. Just six hours after Apple’s website began taking orders, the arrival of high-end versions, which can cost as much as $17,000, were delayed until June.

“We love our iconic, blockbuster launches that we do in the stores and have absolutely no fear you will see those” again, Ahrendts said.

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