Online excitement but no lines for Apple Watch debut

By Brandon Bailey, AP

PALO ALTO, California — An online rush replaced the traditional overnight queues outside Apple stores Friday as the iconic tech company began taking orders and letting shoppers get their hands on its much-vaunted smartwatch for the first time.

Eager customers placed online orders for the Apple Watch as soon as Apple’s website began accepting them, shortly after midnight Pacific Time. Within half an hour, the company appeared to sell out the initial batch of watches that were available for the first official day of shipping on April 24. By midmorning, Apple’s website was showing the earliest shipping date for many watch models would be in June or later.

Demand was difficult to gauge, since Apple hasn’t said how many watches were available for shipping in the first wave on April 24. And in contrast with earlier releases of new Apple products, there were no big lines of shoppers waiting all night outside the company’s retail stores.

That’s because Apple encouraged customers to make appointments for a 15-minute opportunity to try on different models �X which are priced starting at US$349 and go up to US$17,000 for a luxury edition �X while specially trained employees explained their features. Apple is only accepting orders online, for now.

But the debut still came with some of the anticipation and marketing sizzle for which Apple Inc. is famous.

Apple retail staffers in New York, Atlanta and other cities clapped and cheered as the first customers streamed through their stores’ signature glass doors just before 10 a.m. Eager shoppers also examined the watch at shops in London, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Student Victor Leung was grinning from ear to ear after finishing his watch appointment and placing his order for a lower-priced sport model at the Apple store on New York’s 5th Avenue. He said he’d been waiting eagerly for the opportunity to buy one.

��It’s awesome,�� Leung said. ��You get texts on your watch, make phone calls.�� While he has tried other smartwatches, he thinks ��Apple is different.��