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The great Apple Watch letdown of 2015

I’ve been using Apple products since 1984, when I was in 7th grade. The guy who ran the computer lab let me come in every morning to help load the Apple Macintoshes with the Bank Street Writer and Oregon Trail.

Those are fond memories, although 7th grade ended up really sucking overall. But I digress.

31 years later and I still love all things Apple, except for how the company has handled the launch of the Apple Watch. In fact, in all of those years I don’t think I’ve been more annoyed than I am right now. My email is stamped April 10 at 2:03 a.m. Central Time, 2 minutes after the pre-orders began, and right now my order is still processing with an estimated ship date of May 13 to 27th.

scott-kleinberg-direct-messages1I check the Apple Store website every day – more like 50 times a day – and the status hasn’t changed. Apparently, the Apple Watch Sport in space gray with black sport band is the most popular model of them all and is contributing to the delay. But this is about so much more than inventory. This is about a botched-from-the-start launch that felt much more Microsoft than Apple.

I have friends who already have their watch who tell me that I’ll love it once I get mine. No doubt. I can’t wait. But I hope Apple has learned such a valuable lesson from this. We all expect so much more from Apple, and more specifically from a big Apple product launch.

First world problems, right? Geez, couldn’t I find anything more important to complain about?

I’m pretty sure this is how Ralphie felt in A Christmas Story when he kept checking his mailbox for that Little Orphan Annie decoder ring he thought would never come. Of course, that ended up being a major letdown and this is totally different.

Clearly, this is a new market with new obstacles and new lessons to be learned. I get it, and I’m sympathetic. But nothing about this is enjoyable. I saw a stat this morning that only 22 percent of the more than 1 million Apple Watches ordered were delivered with weekend. That’s pathetic.

One of the best things about Apple products and launches is waiting in long lines that snake for miles in all kinds of weather. It’s the one time where you are all but guaranteed that good things will come to those who wait, unless you happen to be in the very back of the line and at the mercy of inventory. You make friends in the line, friends who just minutes before were strangers kind enough to hold your place in line so you can go to the bathroom in some hotel lobby restroom.

And like I said earlier, I get that it’s a new product class. There’s a big difference between letting 50 people come in and getting them their iPhones and getting 50 people fitted for a watch. But the Apple I’ve known for 31 years could have figured it out. The Apple I know for 31 years wouldn’t just dump everyone into a pre-order queue and let them hope for the best. There’s no excitement in that, and there should be some level of excitement. Excitement is the Apple way.

I emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday, not because I expected a response but because I know he reads his emails. And I wanted him to know that people like me, people who have been using Apple products for three decades have taken offense to what has happened here. I know I’m not alone, but I’ve waited all my life to be able to talk into my wrist like Michael Knight on Knight Rider.

Some day, we’ll look back on this and remember all those other things we thought we’d never survive. Remember Antennagate, that horrible day in 2010 when Apple released a phone with a design flaw that caused calls to drop on the new iPhone 4? Me neither.

I’ll survive. Apple will persevere. And I’ll be ready to complain anew when Apple Watch 2 shipping is delayed.

About Scott Kleinberg

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