Apple Watch buyers will have to queue virtually in order to buy the device, at least initially. A press release this morning from the company reveals that the first batch of Apple Watch orders will only be collected via the Apple Store application for iOS devices and the online Apple store site.
Apple head of retail Angela Ahrendts confirmed this plan in the press release announcing pre-sales of the Apple Watch, which begin April 10 along with in-store try-ons and demos ahead of the April 24 official store date. In a statement included in the release, Ahrendts expressed it thusly:
To provide the best experience and selection to as many customers as we can, we will be taking orders for Apple Watch exclusively online during the initial launch period.
Typically, Apple uses its online retail outlets to collect pre-orders for devices ahead of their official launch date, but then allows customers to purchase them at its physical locations, without requiring any reservation ahead of time. This is what leads to the long lines that form regularly on iPhone launch day. A leaked memo from earlier this week suggested Ahrendts wanted to change Apple’s retail line practice, encouraging Watch shoppers specifically to head online to ensure they get what they want in a timely manner.
We contacted Apple to find out how far past the 24th that online orders only restriction might apply, but the company said it had nothing more to share beyond what was conveyed in the text of the release. Likely, when walk-in sales kick-off depends a lot on initial appetite and the overall success of this novel strategy.