A customer tries on an Apple Watch at an Apple Store in Hong Kong Friday, April 10, 2015. From Beijing to Paris to San Francisco, the Apple Watch made its debut Friday. Customers were invited to try them on in stores and order them online. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Latest on Apple Watch release: The importance of apps

A customer tries on an Apple Watch at an Apple Store in Hong Kong Friday, April 10, 2015. From Beijing to Paris to San Francisco, the Apple Watch made its debut Friday. Customers were invited to try them on in stores and order them online. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

A customer tries on an Apple Watch at an Apple Store in Hong Kong Friday, April 10, 2015. From Beijing to Paris to San Francisco, the Apple Watch made its debut Friday. Customers were invited to try them on in stores and order them online. Pic: AP.

12:22 p.m. EDT.

Apple’s early advertising promoted the watch as a fashion accessory, with elegant design and numerous options in watch faces, bands and other features. But the company is also emphasizing the new technology it’s developed, including the “tapping” feature that signals alerts and messages, and new apps specifically designed for the watch’s relatively small screen.

Software apps and Internet services were a vital part of the iPhone’s success, and Apple has made sure the new watch will have a wide range of apps available from the start. Along with a host of Apple-designed apps, such as Maps, Mail, Siri and Apple Pay, watch owners will be able to download numerous apps developed by outside companies.

Several media companies have developed apps to provide headlines and quick news updates for the Apple Watch. These include news outlets like CNN, NPR and the New York Times, along with the sports-focused ESPN and MLB.com. The Times promises one-sentence articles “crafted specially” for the watch, along with photographs and “short, bulleted summaries” of news developments.

Travel and transportation information will be available through apps developed by the car-hailing service Uber, mapping services like CityMapper and SafeMap, and travel booking services such as TripAdvisor and Expedia. Travelers can check their flights on an American Airlines app or unlock their door with a Starwood Hotels app that turns the watch into a wireless room key. An app from Babbel promises to help wearers learn new words in foreign languages.

Not surprisingly, given the popularity of fitness wristbands, a number of apps are promising to help watch-owners track their health and exercise routines. Apps from Nike, Strava and Runtastic are all designed to measure workouts and physical exertion. An app called Tensio will help owners monitor their blood pressure.

— Brandon Bailey, AP Technology Writer


12:11 p.m. EDT.

If you don’t like your watch, the standard 14-day return policy applies in most cases.

Most Apple Watches come with Apple’s standard warranty — one year for hardware, plus 90 days of free telephone support. For luxury editions, you get two years of hardware repairs and telephone support.

Extended coverage is available through AppleCare — $49 for the cheapest “Sport” version, $69 for the regular edition and $1,500 for the luxury version, known as Edition. For Sport and regular editions, the coverage gets you two years of repairs and support, including what comes with the warranty. With the luxury version, it’s three years.

In all cases, you’re also protected from two incidents of accidental damage, though you’re charged a service fee each time — $69 for Sport, $79 for the regular version and $1,000 for the luxury edition. The regular warranty typically doesn’t cover repairs when it’s your fault.

You have 60 days after buying the watch to sign up for AppleCare.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer


11:48 a.m. EDT.

Mark Servidio was online in New York at 3 a.m. to order two Apple Watches — Sport models with black bands in large for him and small for his wife. Six hours later, he was at the 9 a.m. opening of the Apple store on New York’s Upper East Side.

The 30-year-old software developer wanted to check out what he just paid $349 and $399 for. He’d booked an afternoon appointment, but he decided to try out his luck after seeing there was hardly a line. Store employees were able to accommodate him quickly.

Servidio ended up trying some of the models he didn’t buy, just to see what they’d feel like. An employee explained some features, though the watches Servidio was allowed to try on were all running in demonstration mode.

Servidio admits he doesn’t really need an Apple Watch. But he’s curious about what it can do and thinks it might make checking messages and other notifications less intrusive than pulling out his phone.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer


11:26 a.m. EDT.

S&P Capital IQ analyst Angelo Zino predicts Apple will sell 10 million watches in 2015.

“Our view is it’s going to take time for the consumer to adopt wearable technology,” Zino said in an interview. “We’re very positive on the long-term trends for wearables and we think Apple is going to be a clear leader in the category.” He thinks initial sales are going to be below expectations, though.

Because the smartwatch is a new category of product, Apple will have to work harder to show customers what it can do, Zino says. The company is encouraging customers to make appointments to try the watch and some of its features, before ordering it online. That’s a departure from its approach to the iPhone and iPad, which have been sold on a first-come, first-served basis to customers who often line up at Apple stores on the first day those products are available.

“They had to change their sales strategy,” Zino said of the watch. “It’s not a standardized product, so you need to make consumers aware of the customization that’s available, and you can’t take the approach you’ve taken with other products.”

— Brandon Bailey, AP Technology Writer


11:11 a.m. EDT.

Employees of the Lenox Square Mall’s Apple store in Atlanta clapped and cheered as customers streamed through its glass doors just before 10 a.m. About 20 people had lined up outside the second-floor storefront.

Marcus Martin, a self-described “gadget” guy from Columbus, Ohio, was first in line with his wife and smiled broadly after leaving the store with an order placed. He said it was a long-anticipated gift for his birthday on Saturday.

“It’s very user-friendly, and that was a question I had in my mind,” he said. He especially likes the watch’s ability to turn off when a user’s arm swings down, hoping that feature will save battery life.

Steve Kaip and his 15-year-old son Jason also were among the first in the store. On a spring break trip to Atlanta from their home in Novi, Michigan, they’re planning to place an order when they get home, preserving their “early adopter” status.

“I don’t wear a watch today, but I’m considering wearing a watch if it did more than just tell time,” Steve Kaip says. “The calendar function letting you know an event is coming up with a buzz on your wrist, instead of wherever your phone is, that’s good.”

— Kathleen Foody, AP writer


11:09 a.m. EDT.

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster estimates that launch day supply (the models available for shipping on April 24th) was largely sold out within the first 10 to 30 minutes of going on sale. “We view this as an indication of solid demand paired with very limited supply, with supply being the most significant limiting factor,” he writes in a note Friday morning.


10:57 a.m. EDT (7:57 a.m. PDT).

It’s quiet outside the Apple store in downtown Palo Alto, California, which is one of the company’s flagship retail locations, on University Avenue in the heart of Silicon Valley. In past years, Apple fans have held festive overnight vigils outside the store and lined up on the sidewalk to be among the first to buy the latest models of iPhones and iPads.

At 7 a.m. PDT, three hours before the store was scheduled to open, the only people outside were a local television crew and a couple of passersby who stopped briefly to watch the crew file a live report. Inside the store, Apple retail workers could be seen through the glass doors setting up displays, including a line of glass-topped cases containing the new watches.

— Brandon Bailey, AP Technology Reporter


10:45 a.m. EDT.

If you haven’t already ordered an Apple Watch, don’t expect to get one when it starts shipping on April 24.

Apple’s store in the U.S. is citing delivery of June or “4-6 weeks” for most models, including large expensive luxury versions with leather bands. The large version of a stainless-steel model with a black link bracelet won’t be shipping until July — for $1,099.

When Apple has done advance orders in the past, it makes inventory available in stores for launch day — in this case, April 24. But Apple has no plans for that this time. For the foreseeable future, all orders must be handled online, even if you visit a store to try one on.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer


10:28 a.m. EDT.

Tanien “David” Wang was the first to enter Apple’s store on New York’s Upper West Side. Employees clapped and cheered as Wang raised both arms over his head in triumph.

The 48-year old plumber knew which Apple Watch he wanted — the large Sport version with a black band for $399 — but he came to an Apple store rather than order online so that staff could walk him through it.

Friends in China have asked him to order some watches, since they are cheaper in the U.S. (The same model costs $481 in China.) Smiling, Wang says he wants to see their money first.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer


10:21 a.m. EDT.

Why is Apple insisting on online orders, even for those who come to a store to try on the watch?

Inventory management seems to be a big reason. Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president for its stores, said the company expects “strong customer demand will exceed our supply at launch. 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 try-on visit “gives the air of concierge service and something extra to the process, while operationally it’s pretty smart for them,” says Anne Zybowski, vice president for retail insights at the consulting firm Kantar Retail in Boston.

It’s not unprecedented in retail to have a sales representative walk you through your options before buying. Think wedding dresses and home furnishings.

These visits are “more for people who are on the fence and want to explore what it is,” says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies. Those who already know what they want will likely just buy it online.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer


10:07 a.m. EDT.

Apple hasn’t offered any estimates of how many watches it expects to sell, but some analysts have predicted sales could reach 10 million to 20 million units in the first year. Veteran Apple watcher Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, has offered a more conservative estimate of 8 million. He expects about 300,000 advance orders on Friday, with about 1 million watches sold in the first weekend after they become available for shipping on April 24.

By comparison, Apple sold more than 10 million of its new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones in the first weekend they were available in September, and a record total of 74.5 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of last year. Munster has said he expects the Apple Watch will see healthy sales growth over the next three years. But he cautioned in a recent report that the smartwatch is still a new product category and said “it will likely take time” for the appeal to extend beyond hard-core Apple fans.

— Brandon Bailey, AP Technology Writer


9:51 a.m. EDT.

Victor Leung is grinning from ear to ear after finishing his watch appointment at the 5th Avenue store and ordering the sport model. The student says he’s been waiting for this launch since September and is the first among his friends to get the Apple Watch.

“It’s awesome,” Leung says. “You get texts on your watch, make phone calls.” While he has tried other smartwatches, he thinks “Apple is different,” more unique.

Andrew Klink snapped a photo of the sports watch display case. “My boyfriend wants it,” says the retired American who is visiting New York from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s “not sure this is something anybody needs,” but likes the simple design, the matte color of the sports watch strap, and the clasp.

“It’s handsome, and I think reasonably priced,” he says.

— Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer


9:03 a.m. EDT.

As Apple’s 5th Avenue store in New York City prepares to open, journalists and Apple employees outnumber people waiting for the watch.

Robert Jose, who has lined up in the drizzle not for a watch but to get a charger and exchange his iPhone, thought it would be a “little crazier” given the usual hoopla around iPhone launches.

“It doesn’t look like Black Friday yet. No fists flying,” the retail worker says. Caught up in the excitement anyway, Jose wants to “get in there” to get a glimpse at the watch.

Physician Asif Luqman has made an appointment to look at a steel version.

“I’m not getting it, just want to try it on. I like watches a lot,” he says. He wants to see it because it is the first of its kind. Apple, he believes, has put in the time and the effort to make a high-quality watch. He’s not getting it though.

“I’m waiting for the next version,” he says. “I want a watch that can function on its own.” Now it’s a small screen on your wrist for your phone. “I don’t need that.”

As a doctor, he’s also concerned about battery life. His phone already dies halfway through the day, the watch dies faster and not enough people will have it yet to have chargers laying around, he says.

— Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer


7:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. in London)

In London’s Covent Garden, a tourist hotspot, a buzz is growing in the Apple flagship store as dozens of fans come to check out the new Apple Watch.

Some crouch over glass counters to play with sample watches, while others who had pre-booked appointments try them on their wrists.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” says Carl Walsh, a 43-year-old company director. “It’s beautifully developed, but I’ll probably want to wait a bit and see what people say about the battery life.”

The watch is Apple’s first new product category since the iPad came out five years ago. Analysts are waiting to see how well the watch will sell beyond devoted Apple fans. Apple has a better chance at succeeding than any other smartwatch maker so far, yet it will likely take time before sales reach the kind of numbers that Apple gets for iPhones and iPads.

Watch prices start at $349, but can go as high as $17,000 for a luxury edition in gold. People can try the watch on in Apple stores, but for now all orders are being handled online. Shipments begin April 24.

Regy Selsaas, 42, is here to see if the watch would make a good gift for his wife.

“It’s more like a gadget than a phone,” he says, wincing at the high price tag of the luxury version. “It’s really beautiful but expensive. I’m not 100 percent convinced.”

Jay Carroll, 15, needs no persuading. He and his mother Sarah placed an online order first thing Friday, but the two still wanted to try it out in store.

“I’m looking forward to just having it there on my wrist, so I can be on my phone all the time,” he says.

—Sylvia Hui, AP writer


5:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. in Tokyo):

The curious in Japan form a long line in Isetan department store, where a special section was built just for the Apple watch.

The 70-square-meter (750-square-foot) modernist box with black floors and walls is staffed by about a dozen workers clad in black.

Only 20 customers are allowed in at a time, and only those with advance reservations or who showed up early enough to get one of 76 lottery tickets got to try the watch on.

The rest could only look at a display of 19 watches under a glass showcase. They range in price from about 43,000 yen ($360) to 2,800,000 yen ($23,300) for the luxury edition in gold.

— Noriko Kitano, AP writer


5 a.m. EDT (5 p.m. in Shanghai):

In central Shanghai, potential Apple watch buyers stand in lines two to five people long over their lunch hour at an Apple store to try on the watch many say they already planned to buy.

“It was beautifully made, like an expensive watch,” says Li Hao, 27, a Web designer who owns a Mac, an iPad and an Apple TV. He has just traded up from an iPhone 4 to the new iPhone 6 Plus.

China was among countries where the watch had its global debut Friday, reflecting the country’s fast-growing status as one of Apple’s most important markets.

Li said he planned to buy the sport version of the watch at about 3,000 yuan ($500).

“I cannot do sports with the mobile phone,” he said. “I need a machine to record what I did and a screen to look at.”

Qi Tian, 26, who works in human resources for a real estate company, says he is “not a big fan” of Apple, though he owns four or five products. He says he plans to order a watch online that day.

“I just came to see if the size fits,” says Qi.

— Fu Ting, AP researcher


3:01 a.m. EDT (12:01 a.m. in Cupertino, California):

Ready, set, go …

Apple starts taking orders for the watch on its website and Apple Store app. Currently, this is the only way Apple is selling the watch. Even those visiting retail stores will have to order online — either at home or at a Web terminal inside the store.

The retail stores are meant for customers who aren’t sure which watch case, band or size they want — or aren’t sure they even want one. Staff will be on hand to help customers try on the watches and answer questions before buying. Customers are encouraged to make an appointment online, though walk-ins will be accepted — just expect a wait.

It’s available in the U.S. and eight other markets around the world. In the U.S., the watch is available only in Apple stores. In some countries, select department stores and resellers also have it.

— Anick Jesdanun, AP Technology Writer