In a recent memo to Apple Store employees, Angela Ahrendts laid down her vision for the future of product launches.
“The days of waiting in line…are over”, she wrote.
Yes, the company that started the ritual of its fans camping out and waiting in line for its new devices is now actively seeking to end it. The lines have traditionally been a PR coup for Apple, with national and local news outlets dispatched to write about people, well, standing in line. It also gives startups a chance to publicize themselves by sponsoring the people in the line and publicity to those who are habitually first in line. However, the lines have recently drawn criticism by fans of the company who’ve noticed many of the buyers on product launch days are more interested in straining supplies by buying as many units as they can to sell them overseas, rather than buying an iDevice for themselves.
So, like Daenerys Targaryen in the latest Game of Thrones trailer, Ahrendts wants to break the wheel of early adopters lining up for the new hotness early in the AM on launch day, or the day before, and maybe (or maybe not) getting what they’ve come for and repeating the same time next year.
“The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives. This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order”, she writes.
Even if you can’t buy you can still fondle, right? That’s how it’s always been on Apple’s launch days if you’re on the fence.
Not this time. Unless you’ve made an appointment, the only way you’ll see the watch is behind glass. As Charles Montgomery Burns said, “See with your eyes, not your hands”. (Though if you’re interested in the Apple Watch Edition, they’ll accept walk-ins. But for $10,000, why not?)
All of which, when you think about it, makes sense in light of the recent developments at Apple. Ahrendts comes from high-end clothier Burberry and she took charge of the company at a time when the brand was being diminished by overexposure. Having people sleeping outside Apple stores, as good as it might look on TV, isn’t the sort of thing you see outside Tiffany & Co. and Cartier — which is the kind of company Apple now aspires to be compared to.
I found these two details to be the most interesting: Ahrendts also mentions that there’s “more availability online” and that this also applies to the retina MacBook.
This might mean that Apple’s solved its supply chain problems and that there’s enough Apple Watches to meet their projected sales on the first day — if you order online. Granted, it’s speculation that’s a long shot at best unless the Apple Watch really is the turkey naysayers are predicting — but that’s rarely happened recently. (Yes, it’s wild-ass speculation, but when else is the occasion for wild-ass speculation than days before an Apple launch?)
But, more realistically, this might also point to Apple putting an emphasis on online ordering and pre-orders for future launches and perhaps, transitioning the stores to carrying less inventory.
Crazy? Maybe. But so would telling someone lined up for the first iPhone that Apple would sell a $10,000 watch.