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Thin crowds greet Apple Watch in stores, suggesting fans prefer to buy, not fondle

Peter Sayer | April 13, 2015
The arrival of the Apple Watch in stores Friday failed to draw the same crowds that greeted the launch of the iPhone 6 -- but this may be a sign that Apple fans are prepared to queue overnight to buy, but not just to try.

The arrival of the Apple Watch in stores Friday failed to draw the same crowds that greeted the launch of the iPhone 6 -- but this may be a sign that Apple fans are prepared to queue overnight to buy, but not just to try.

For the next two weeks, visitors to the stores can only look at the watches or -- by appointment -- try them on for 15 minutes.

They can also preorder the watch, which won't go on sale until April 24, but since this is done via Apple's online store, they could just as easily order at home, or through Apple's mobile app.

It's little wonder that Apple is encouraging people to buy online rather than hold inventory in store: With three models of Watch, each available in two sizes and two colors, and a variety of bracelet options, the company has created a stock-keeping nightmare for itself. It shows 38 models of the watch on its website, though even that doesn't take into account all possible variations of case and strap color.

There are a few customers impatient to try before they buy: In central Sydney, two dozen people waited under a light drizzle for the Apple Store to open at 9 a.m.

First in line was William Prütz, 20, from Sweden, who has spent the last five months in Australia. He is already a fan of watches, and sported a US$1,000 Certina, a Swiss brand, on his left wrist. Acquiring an Apple Watch could pose a dilemma for him: "I don't want to replace this one," he said.

Prütz already has the iPhone needed to make calls via the Watch, which doesn't have a cellular connection. He is most interested in the health-related applications, as he's a cyclist and does other training.

Fitness applications for the Watch also appeal to Sandeep, a 38-year-old IT security specialist, who didn't want to give his last name. He already has three watches, which he uses for various occasions. On Friday, he wore one made by Kenneth Cole with a silver metal band.

He said he's been a fan of watches since he was six or seven years old, when his parents bought him one as a gift. He was crushed when he lost it.

If he buys the Watch, it will be the basic model, as for him it's "more about the technology" rather than fashion: all of Apple's Watches contain the same electronics, regardless of finish or band style.

The Watch attracted a similarly low-key gathering at an Apple store in Shenzhen, China.

Among those who tried out the device was Xie Yi Feng, who also plans to buy the cheapest model, the Apple Watch Sport.

 

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