So, the inevitable happened on Friday April 10.
Within minutes of being available for pre-order and delivery 14 days later, Apple’s Watch sold out. By my estimates of watching the event unfold, it didn’t take long for specific models to have the estimated shipping time jump from 10 days up to “4-6 weeks”.
There has been a lot written that this is a deliberate move by Apple to create a sense of scarcity – to create demand.
And, while that is a factor no doubt, there is another angle to this that seems to be missed in most commentary.
For every launch of a new product, and let’s face it, Watch is mostly an unknown product at this moment, why is the assumption made that it’s going to sell well?
Okay, for iPhones and iPads there is now a decent amount of historical sales data. So, an estimate can be made for how well the next model will sell. But, even then, it’s never a sure bet. So, why would Apple over commit to product numbers and be left with stock?
This goes double for Watch. It’s a move into the unknown. While there is certainly a huge base of loyal Apple customers, is Apple so arrogant to think that it’s a given they will all buy this new, unknown product?
The short answer is no.
Apple has not released the volumes for each model that were produced for launch. However, there are reports that 18 Karat Watch Edition models very quickly had shipping dates move out to the 6-10 week time frame.
Sure, the volume probably did move quickly. Those wanting to replace their Rolex with a Watch would have snapped them up. But, as they sell for AU$14,000 – AU$24,000, potentially there wasn’t a huge pool available to start with.
The model that was available for delivery on April 24 as the minutes ticked by was the Stainless Steel model with the black leather strap. (Now available in 4-6 weeks.)
Why was this Watch the last to move out shipping dates? Chances are, this is the one that was anticipated to be the most popular, thus a greater volume was created.
What does this all mean?
Just this. That unless you have a data point to understand the real demand for any product, be it a new model or, something completely new, it’s best to test the market.
This is market fit 101.
Know your market and its desire for your product.
And, Apple has just shown you how it’s done.