Apple's smartwatch went on sale Friday, but only a few people in the world could actually go into a store and buy one.
The Apple Watch was officially sold only in a few high-end, fashion boutiques: Dover Street Market in London, Isetan in Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles, Colette in Paris, the Corner in Berlin and 10 Corso Como in Milan, as well as an unspecified (and unnamed) number of authorized resellers.
Apple watchers says the rollout ploy is more typical of the fashion industry than the technological one. The boutiques are all fashion trendsetters, capable of making the watch a must-have fashion item for trendy shoppers.
Whether this ploy will work for Apple remains to be seen. Bloomberg reports that there were about 20 people waiting in line when London's Dover Street Market opened this morning and they were not all fashionistas - but "a mixed bag, as geeks and chics mingled."
Apple typically sells its products in its own stores. But shoppers who showed up at Apple stores Friday in the mistaken impression that they could buy the watch there were disappointed. Apple stores will not get the watch until June.
Until then, would-be watch buyers can schedule a watch demonstration at Apple stores and order it on line.
Not the first smart watch
A smart watch is by definition a wrist watch that maintains a wireless connection to a mobile device which allows wearers to receive notice of incoming calls, texts, instant messages, notifications from social networks and more.
The Apple smartwatch is not the first one on the market. The Smartwatch Group, which does industry research, says that 89 companies sold $1.29 billion in smartwatches in 2014. Their average price was $189.
The Apple Watch sells for an entry level price of $350 and analysts expect that the average price for the Apple Watch will be at least $500. The gold version sells for $10,000.
Apple says "our most personal device yet" can give the wearer a gentle tap when an e mail comes in. One of the Apple Watch ads that launched Friday shows watch owners checking train schedules, scanning their credit cards with the watch, reading e-mail, and oh by the way, checking the time.
Analysts forecast Apple will ship 14 million units in 2015 - grabbing a large share of the smartwatch market and making it grow to sales of $8.9 billion.
This despite the fact that not all reviewers have hailed the Apple Watch.
"Let’s just get this out of the way: " writes Nilay Patel, editor of The Verge,"the Apple Watch, as I reviewed it for the past week and a half, is kind of slow." And heavy, writes Patel, who then adds the watch is also "the most capable smartwatch available today.
It is one of the most ambitious products I’ve ever seen; it wants to do and change so much about how we interact with technology. But that ambition robs it of focus: it can do tiny bits of everything, instead of a few things extraordinarily well."
"It does seem, for now, that it accomplishes a number of traditional smartwatch tasks in a more simple, and certainly more beautiful way." Christina Bonnington wrote for Wired in March. "But needing to charge every day, with its 18-hour battery life, is still a bummer..."
Apple started taking online pre-orders for the watch on April 10 and reportedly received over 1 million pre-orders for smart watches the first day. The first shipments went out Friday along with the rollout of the watch.
Take heart, Apple fans
Will the effort to appeal to fashionistas permanently turn off diehard Apple fans? It should not, says Apple, because future rollouts will not be like this one for the Apple Watch.
"Are we going to launch every product this way from now on? No. We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days - and there will many more to come," wrote Apple Retail Chief Angela Ahrendts in an internal memo that was leaked to the press earlier this month.