As consumers watch out for Apple Watch availability

April 27, 2015 | By RetailME Bureau

Is it a good device? How will it benefit me? These are questions lurking in consumer minds about the recently launched Apple Watch, of course amidst a lot of excitement too.

People have become used to Apple delivering very strong products year after year. However, it hasn’t introduced a new product category since 2007 when the iPhone was launched. That’s a possible reason for the lukewarm response towards Apple Watch as of now, shares Omar Kassim, founder and CEO of Dubai-based online marketplace

People are looking to first try and test before taking a leap. That’s what happened when iPhone was launched. Of course there were early adopters but the real mass market demand took some time till the launch of iPhone 3GS and 4. This time too consumers will have to figure out with time if the Apple Watch is where computing is going next and if it is the right device that they’d like to use.

RetailME speaks to Kassim about stock availability of and demand for Apple Watch

In terms of features and functions, what are the benefits of owning an Apple Watch? Or is it more about being part of the Apple ecosystem?

The Apple Watch – coming in three variants Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and the high-end Apple Watch Edition – is definitely an add-on to its ecosystem. The idea behind the design is to help people stop looking at their phones as much as possible. Instead of pulling out the phone every time when you receive a notification, you can simply glance at your Apple Watch and decide if it’s worth your consideration. Through this device Apple is somewhat trying to cannibalise phone usage. It is a new way to help people interact with technology. It will take people some time to understand and decide whether to use it or not. In the end, an Apple user is likely to be keen to have it as part of the collection.

In a country like the UAE where consumers are ever-keen to be first to own a new device, why has Apple Watch not been launched in stores yet?

It really is a supply issue so much so that Apple has been constrained in making the device available at its own stores globally. Talking specifically about the UAE – when compared with massive markets like the US, the UK, Germany, Hong Kong or China – it is, unfortunately, not a big enough market for Apple yet. We might be one in the future but not just yet. However, in terms of regional uptake the UAE is definitely very strong.

Have you received enough stock? Do you fear running out of stock since only two online shopping sites – and are likely to offer Apple Watch in the UAE at the moment?

We’re running super short of stock at the moment, which will be an issue over the next two months. Apple has the second wave of pre-orders lined up starting May 8 so we anticipate stocks to be available widely by end of July.

At what kind of pre-order demand have you witnessed since Friday?

We haven’t taken any pre-orders yet. Enough inventories have not been made available. But a couple of hundred of customers have signed up with us to be alerted once stock is available. On Friday, April 24, Apple took orders online but didn’t make stock available even in its own stores barring supplying a few units to select designer outlets in New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Paris. So in the regional market, due to lack of clarity on pricing the demand has been lukewarm, which is expected to change as stock becomes available in the days to come. We will then get a better sense of demand. However, having said that, one of our marketplace sellers sold one unit at the north of 5K. It came in and flew off almost instantly. In terms of demand, that speaks for itself.

Do you think the risk of grey market retailing will increase due to unavailability?

Yes and no because by not making inventory available, Apple is curbing people from queuing up at its stores. By doing so Apple has on one hand reduced that overwhelming launch effect but on the other hand it has actually curbed grey market dealings, as people don’t have access to the product yet. It has actually helped Apple in terms of distribution. It’s a good change, albeit due to unavailability.

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