Can’t wait for Apple Watch? The time is now, but only at Melrose boutique
If you had to have an Apple Watch on Friday, a West Hollywood boutique was the only place in the U.S. to get one.
About 150 Apple Watch early adopters lined up overnight to be first in the door at Maxfield on trendy Melrose Avenue. Second in line was Brandon Robinson, 31, who said he arrived at the store at 8 a.m. Thursday. Twenty-five hours later, he emerged with a small black bag containing his stainless steel smartwatch.
“I’m definitely excited,” he said as he showed off his $699 purchase. “It’s worth it.”
New iPhones draw hordes of customers to Apple’s stores on the first day they go on sale, but the company has positioned its first smartwatch as a fashion item rather than just a cool gadget that makes life a bit easier.
In keeping with the approach, Apple provided the watch to just five high-end boutiques around the world for sale on Friday. Maxfield was joined by stores in Tokyo, London, Paris and Berlin.
“This technology, you really want it first,” said J.R. Oliney, 36, who sat in a red collapsible chair overnight so he could get a watch. “They call us beta testers, but we want to be on the cutting edge.”
His friend Ankush Bhasin, 18, said he was hoping to pick up a Sport version of the watch.
“It’s all hype,” Bhasin said of limiting supply of the watches to artificially create demand -- and the line. “It’s special, though. That’s what makes Apple Apple.”
Ali Askari, 27, of Studio City said he was willing to wait in line for hours because “it’s Apple’s first new device in five years, and that’s huge.”
Madhav Chhura got in line at 7 p.m. Thursday with his girlfriend. He said he had preordered an Apple Watch but that it won’t ship until May.
“I couldn’t wait that long,” he said.
The 21-year-old from Cerritos was one of several app developers waiting in line. He said he plans to create a parking widget for the Apple Watch.
Apple won’t be selling the watches in its stores until later, but has made them available for trying on by appointment.
They may not be easy to get, but demand has been strong. The Apple Watch is easily outselling previous smartwatches from Motorola, LG and Samsung, according to analyst estimates. Apple is estimated to have pre-sold 2 million watches, according to research at FBR Capital Markets. The firm expects 20 million to be sold by the end of the year.
Carl Howe, principal analyst at Think Big Analytics, said he expects the first two weeks of sales will bring in $2 billion in revenue for Apple and that the company will fetch higher gross margins on the watch than any of its other products.
For some at Maxfield, the wait in line was profitable.
After each arriving at 4:30 a.m., Ebbie Abbassirad, 27, and Nathan Flores, 24, said they sold their places in line to a couple for $300.
“I wasn’t going to sell for less than $300,” Abbassirad said. “I sat on the hard cement.”
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