After a botched rollout due to supply chain issues, the Apple Watch will finally be available to buy in stores “by June,” 9to5Mac reports.
After being sold exclusively online since its launch, Apple’s debut smartwatch will soon be available to buy in the Cupertino company’s retail outlets, CEO Tim Cook reportedly told Apple employees in China.
The launch of the Apple Watch has been plagued with difficulties, with demand far outstripping supply. Potential customers could only order it online, and it went out of stock within hours, with many buyers waiting weeks for their device to arrive. Apple subsequently removed the official “launch” date from its website.
This unusual launch strategy caused widespread confusion among consumers unable to understand why Apple’s latest product was unable to actually purchase in any of its stores, with one source telling us that Apple retail staff largely viewed the launch as a massive screw-up. Employees are being forced to turn away eager customers again and again. Even now, customers can book appointments to try the device on in-store — but then have to go home to actually order it.
It later emerged that this wasn’t down to Apple misjudging the launch — but because of a serious technical fault with a key component from one of Apple’s suppliers. The “taptic engines” that provide vibrating feedback to the Apple Watch wearer produced by AAC Technologies Holdings were defective, forcing Apple to switch to another supplier. But the new supplier couldn’t ramp up production immediately, causing delays.
As such, when retail chief Angela Ahrendts told Apple Store employees that the company had made the “hard decision” not to have the device available for purchase in stores, it wasn’t because Apple screwed up — it was because AAC had let them down.
Tim Cook’s comments to Chinese Apple employees indicate that the company has finally managed to overcome this hurdle, and will soon have sufficient stock to finally allow walk-in purchases. Speaking more broadly about the Apple Watch, the CEO said that “the Watch could not be going better, we’re working really hard on making more,” according to 9to5Mac.
Issues with the launch hasn’t stopped the Apple Watch enjoying extremely strong sales (even if customers aren’t actually getting the devices they ordered). It’s been estimated that the Apple Watch sold more units in a single day than Google managed in an entire year with its own smartwatch software, Android Wear. And respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple’s smartwatch saw more than 2.3 million pre-orders in total, dwarfing Google’s 720,000 total sales in 2014.