Apple told employees Thursday that Apple Watch will continue to be limited to online sales through May. According to a memo obtained by The Telegraph, Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts told staff it "has not been an easy decision," but that it was necessary to fulfill customer orders more swiftly.
Ms. Ahrendts also acknowledged that "this is a different experience for our customers," and she specified the company isn't planning to launch every new product like this. "We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days," she wrote, "and there will be many more to come."
She also intimated that the great number of options in the Apple Watch influenced the decision. With so many band and case options, Apple apparently found it easier to manage its inventory from a central location while it ramps up manufacturing and deals with early demand.
Apple Watch went on display on April 10th and will begin shipping on April 24th. Ms. Ahrendts's letter didn't mention the back order times already showing June, but the "through May" time frame she offered for current conditions jibes with the June availability showing on the online Apple Store for Apple Watch.
Ms. Ahrendts's letter in full:
On behalf of Tim and the rest of the executive team, I want to thank you very much for making last Friday's debut of Apple Watch unforgettable. The Previews going on in our stores and support from our Contact Centers are unlike anything we have done before.
The feedback from customers is overwhelmingly positive. They are excited about Apple Watch, and your teams are creating fantastic experiences for them. Customers who pre-ordered will start receiving deliveries next Friday as planned, and I know you will do a great job helping them get set up.
Many of you have been getting questions asking if we will have the watch available in store on April 24 for walk-in purchases. As we announced last week, due to high global interest combined with our initial supply, we are only taking orders online right now. I'll have more updates as we get closer to in-store availability, but we expect this to continue through the month of May. It has not been an easy decision, and I want to share with you the thinking behind it.
It's important to remember that Apple Watch is not just a new product but an entirely new category for us. There's never been anything quite like it. To deliver the kind of service our customers have come to expect - and that we expect from ourselves - we designed a completely new approach. That's why, for the first time, we are previewing a new product in our stores before it has started shipping.
Apple Watch is also our most personal product yet, with multiple case and band options because it's an object of self-expression. Given the high interest and initial supply at launch, we will be able to get customers the model they want earlier and faster by taking orders online.
I know this is a different experience for our customers, and a change for you as well. Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days - and there will be many more to come. They're the moments where you, our teams, shine. And our customers love them as well!
Apple Watch is an exciting new product and we are at the start of a very exciting time at Apple. You're the best team on earth and you are doing an amazing job.
For customers who want to buy a watch, please continue to help them place their order online. Also make sure they know that, wherever they buy, Apple will provide them with a great Personal Setup experience - either online or in our stores. This includes syncing their Apple Watch with their iPhone and teaching them about all the incredible features of their new Apple Watch.
Thank you very much again, and I look forward to seeing you soon.