Wait times for Apple Watch pre-orders extend to summer

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 06:19 GMT, Apr 11, 2015 |

Pre-orders for the Apple Watch kicked off Friday with many eager shoppers being greeted with shipment dates stretching into summer, a preliminary sign of strong demand for the first major new product since Tim Cook took over the company. Apple began taking pre-orders Friday at 3:01 a.m. ET. Soon after, wait times for pre-order shipments ranged from four to six weeks to as late as August.

Jeff Perkins, 41, vice president of marketing for PGi, a Web conferencing and online meeting technology company in Atlanta, counts himself as one of the lucky ones. He beat the rush by getting up before 7 a.m. to pre-order the 42-millimeter watch. It ships in May. Perkins says he’s “all in” on Apple products from the iPhone to Apple TV. And, in his line of work, he has to stay abreast of important tech trends. But the main reason he’s an early adopter of the Apple Watch? “It’s the perfect sports watch,” said Perkins who plans to wear it while jogging. He’ll also wear it the office for the notifications that remind him to get to meetings on time and as a conversation piece. “I will have that showpiece that everyone wants to see,” Perkins said. “I’ll be that guy for a couple of weeks.”

Bo Stern, 49, a senior software development manager with Oracle Fusion Middleware, joked his wallet is quite a bit lighter since ordering the watch and the new MacBook just after midnight. The MacBook is expected to arrive on his doorstep next week, but the watch is postponed until June. As online orders backlogged, shoppers flocked to Apple stores around the globe on Friday to see the Apple Watch in person for the first time. The watch, which officially goes on sale on April 24, is available for pre-order online and to try out in stores by appointment. But shoppers cannot buy the watch and take it home with them. The only way to pre-order the watch: online at home or from a terminal in Apple stores. This is a departure from Apple’s strategy with the iPhone and iPad, which were sold on a first-come, first-serve basis to customers who lined up at Apple stores on the day those products went on sale.

S&P Capital IQ analyst Angelo Zino says Apple’s new retail strategy “definitely has an impact when it comes to the overall buzz of the product.” “They’re not getting the long lines and what have you,” Zino said. “But overall the strategy of taking the online approach and spending additional time with the consumers is a good one given that this is a new entry in the category and that it’s viewed more as a luxury item than as a necessity.”