The past few months have been Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch, ad nauseam. Here’s the only real problem with all this hype. Where’s the Apple Watch? You can order, see, touch, feel, and try on. But you can’t walk into a store and walk out with a Watch. Why? Apple is haunted by the ghost of Steve Jobs.
Gone, Not Forgotten
Apple co-founder Jobs was obsessed with product presentation and details. He was also known as a fearless, tireless taskmaster who pushed product development teams to deliver right up until the last possible moment before a product would ship.
Proof that Jobs’ spirit remains at Apple shows up in new products– Watch and MacBook– but also in the fact that you can’t really go into a store and do much more than look and order, but not buy and take home.
All I can figure out is that Apple’s supply chain, notoriously slow to catch up to demand under Steve Jobs, the Apple Stores, and new products are haunted by Jobs’ ghost. Even supply chain masterminds like CEO Tim Cook and operations honcho Jeff Williams can’t get these new products to the door on time.
Apple announced Watch months ago and said it would ship in early 2015. To Apple, early was described as any time in the first four months of the year (late is the last four months, middle is the middle four months). OK, fair enough. The Watch ship date is April 24th, and Apple might have a few to ship, but the rest will be delivered in May, June, and beyond. Well beyond.
The new MacBook model is nearly as bad. The thin and multi-colored MacBook was announced when Watch was launched a few weeks ago. You can walk into an Apple Store for a touch and feel, order the Mac online, but don’t expect to get one any time soon. Select one in Apple’s online store and you’ll be treated to a four to six week delay. Apple Watch is worse and company executives are saying walk-ins won’t be able to buy a Watch until summer.
Same old Apple. Introduce a new game changing product, build up the hype, limit availability for months. That was the way Steve Jobs did it back in the day, and that’s how his ghost is running things at Apple now.
Is this just a slipshod, clumsy way to run the show? Or, is it all by design? Or, a little of both? I suspect the latter. That’s Apple. No one has ever sold as many smartwatches ever and combined as Apple did Watch in the first week. Demand is high, supply is lower than low. By pre-announcing Watch months before it ships in volume, Apple put a big freeze, a complete reset on the slowly blooming smartwatch industry.
Apple’s executives and hundreds of millions of customers might want the company to launch a new product with sufficient supply to meet demand, but that’s not the Steve Jobs way, and his ghost still affects how Apple functions.
Walk into an Apple Store and ask an associate to see the Watch. No lines. No waiting. The associates almost seem embarrassed that you can touch, feel, try on, and use a Watch– even order one to be shipped someday later this year– but you can’t actually buy one and take it home.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I can say that’s what a little haunting can to do the world’s richest technology company.