Justine Griffin / Herald-Tribune – The hype around the pre-order date for Apple’s newest gizmo — a smartwatch — seemed to fall a little flat compared to the technology company’s many other celebrated releases.
During my stint as a retail reporter, I’ve covered quite a few Apple product releases. I’ve gotten up before the sun to talk to people (sometimes more than 100 of them) in line at malls across the state, waiting to be one of the first inside an Apple Store to take home the newest version of the iPhone or the iPad.
I’ve clapped and cheered alongside sleep-deprived Apple Store employees — dressed in the traditional blue T-shirt with the white Apple logo, jeans and Chuck Taylor shoes — while they counted down the seconds before the store opened.
People really, really love their iPhones and iPads.
The familiar queue line snaked around outside the Apple Store in the Mall at University Town Center on Friday, but it was empty by the time I arrived. A lonely Starbucks employee, manning a cart with free coffee, bottles of water, fruit and trail mix, stood at the front of it.
“Want a free coffee?” he asked before I entered the half-filled store.
I was told that only 20 people had showed up to wait in line before the store opened. I’m not sure if I should be surprised.
This was the first product release for the Apple Store in Southwest Florida. But Apple fans couldn’t take home a watch on Friday. They could only hold it, play with it, and pre-order it. The watch will be available for purchase on April 24.
“I think this one is going to take a while for people to get behind,” retail analyst Jeff Green said. “It’s unique, even for Apple. So it will take people some time to adopt than most other Apple products.”
Inside the store, which honestly didn’t look any busier than it does on a Saturday afternoon, about a dozen people hovered around the table with samples of the coveted Apple Watch.
Employees opened hidden drawers with nearly a dozen watches in each. Customers tried them on.
“It’s kind of small,” said one man, who held his wrist with the watch close to his face.
Others were curious about what you can do with it. Read text messages. Track work outs. Tell time. Who knew?