Apple Watch will be available for sale online only at first

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The company is preemptively trying to meet Watch demand by limiting orders to its online store. Photo: Apple

Apple is clearly expecting the Apple Watch to be a big hit, because it’s already limiting orders to just its online store.

In an effort to help meet expected demand, Apple has announced that you won’t be able to go into your local store and walk out with a Watch for the foreseeable future.

“Based on the tremendous interest from people visiting our stores, as well as the number of customers who have gone to the Apple Online Store to mark their favorite Apple Watch ahead of availability, we expect that strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores, in a statement. “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.”

“The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over”

Going online-only is a big deal for a major Apple product launch. The company is world famous for its long lines on launch day, but Ahrendts recently told retail employees, “The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers.”

Remember how hard it was to get an iPhone 6 when it first went on sale? There were queues and shortages for months. Apple has obviously learned its lesson from the iPhone’s supply constraints. There are dozens of Apple Watch configurations, and the company obviously doesn’t think it will be able to stock its stores well enough to meet initial demand.

You can still try on an Apple Watch by appointment at your local Apple store starting Friday, April 10th. Apple has also said that, starting April 24, the Watch will be on display at select “boutiques in major cities including colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles and The Corner in Berlin, and select Apple Authorized Resellers in China and Japan.”

But even if you decide to buy one right after trying it on, the order will be placed online and shipped to your address.

Alleged shipping estimates for the Watch in a couple of international online stores revealed that even some early preorders may not ship for 4 to 6 weeks. So if you plan on buying an Apple Watch and want it to arrive anywhere near the April 24th launch date, preordering sounds like the way to go.