Apple Inc. can’t keep up with early demand for its new watch though it’s trying to make sure there are enough products to ship by the end of June.
“The customer response for the watch has been great,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said Monday in an interview. “We are working very, very hard to catch up from a supply standpoint -- keep in mind this is not only a new product but it’s an entirely new category.”
The watch, the company’s first new product in five years, made an unusual debut for Apple, which focused on selling the device online and using its stores for demonstrations of how the gadget works.
Optimism for Apple’s new product lineup has helped push the shares to all-time highs this year. The company on Monday reported record profit for the first three months of 2015. Apple Watch sales may reach almost 14 million units in the fiscal year that ends in September, according to the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s retail chief, had told employees in a video that tight inventory and high demand meant the watch initially wouldn’t be available for sale in company stores and urged workers to send shoppers online to make the purchase.
Customers have been able to schedule demonstrations in Apple’s stores since April 10, when online pre-orders began. Shipment times quickly pushed past the official release date of April 24, with some customers promised delivery as late as June, depending on the version. Messages were sent to some buyers last week saying that their orders were shipping earlier than expected.
About 376,000 of the 1.7 million Apple Watches ordered were delivered to consumers in the U.S. this past weekend, according to Slice Intelligence. It estimated that 547,000 would ship by June 11.
Without the lines at retail locations that usually accompany an Apple new-product release, the watch’s introduction was more akin to a fashion debut. It won’t always be that way, the Cupertino, California-based company has said.
“We love our iconic, blockbuster launches that we do in the stores and have absolutely no fear you will see those” again, Ahrendts said in her video message.