Cupertino, Calif. — Apple’s distribution strategy for the Apple Watch is going to slow it down right out of the gate, according to research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).
The Apple Watch, which can be pre-ordered only via Apple.com or through the Apple Store app, becomes available April 24 for prices starting at $349. Consumers can try on the watch in Apple stores this week, but they will only be able to purchase them online through the initial launch period.
The smart watch will also be available at four boutique retailers around the world, although just one is in the U.S.
This limited distribution strategy will hinder initial sales for the Watch, CIRP said, noting, “With only 265 US stores (453 worldwide) only so many units can pass through a given location each day. A significant percentage of consumers — even iPhone owners — do not live near an Apple Store.”
Apple Stores accounted for just 12 percent of all U.S. iPhone sales in 2014, according to CIRP, while cellphone carrier stores sold almost two-thirds.
CIRP doesn’t expect the strategy to last very long, proclaiming: “Look for Apple Watches at a Best Buy near you, sooner rather than later.”
At press time, Apple.com listed shipping as four to six weeks for some models, and as far out as June for others.