Friday marked the Apple Watch's global sales debut, but most purchases will happen online. The tech giant is testing a new marketing strategy to see just how attractive CEO Tim Cook's first new product is to consumers.
Apple has refused to reveal just how many pre-orders it received in the run-up to its April 24 launch of the Apple Watch. That puts this sales start in stark contrast to previous launches of iPhones or iPads.
The tech giant's stores will not have any watches to sell on Friday, with the gadgets only making a physical appearance in a limited number of luxury shops around the world, including the Corner in Berlin.
Analysts said the sales start didn't go off with a bang - but rather a whisper as sales almost exclusively happened online.
The sales debut was telling of just how uncertain Apple is this time around about the real demand for its new product.
"The smaller launch can allow them to see how it goes and it does remove some of the line expectations and risk," industry expert Gene Munster told Reuters. "If they did it the old way and the lines weren't good, that's a bit of a problem."
But that's mere speculation. Apple has identified the simplicity of online orders with a view to keeping the logistical effort manageable.
There are 38 variations of the Apple Watch it would have to keep in stock across its stores, accounting for various sizes, styles and bands with prices ranging from $349 (327 euros) for the Sport version to upwards of $10,000 for the golden Edition.
Little doubt left?
Gene Munster suggested Apple needn't be afraid of its smartwatch becoming a flop. He expects more than 2 million of the ultra-modern timepieces will be sold in the quarter ending in June.
"There was a question over whether the trajectory and demand for wearables in the Apple ecosystem was there and real," he said. "But it's a resounding yes."
Ives believes the US company will be able to move 20 million units by the end of the year.
For the time being, however, Apple will be focusing on getting its products to customers as quickly as possible.
"Our team is working to fill orders based on the available supply and the order in which they were received," the firm said in a statement.
hg/cjc (Reuters, AP)