I was going to do it. I was all set to order Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new smartwatch when I woke up Friday morning.
I wasn't alone. The initial inventory available for pre-order dried up just minutes after Apple Watch sales were launched on the company's website. By the time I was ready to place my order -- just a couple hours after Apple's digital storefront opened -- I was shut out. Any order placed at that time was being pushed out to a delivery of either four to six weeks or June.
I had spent the past few weeks talking myself into making the purchase, and in the flash of an abandoned online shopping cart I quickly talked my way out of the sale.
Placing an order at that point didn't make sense. Why bother? I know how scarcity at Apple has worked in the past. If I wait until June to make my decision -- when Apple said it would ship out the Apple Watch order that I ultimately didn't place on Friday -- there will likely be shorter wait times, if any at all. Retail availability will be easier to come by. Why stick my foot in the door when I can make the most of that time to see if there are any hardware glitches or public stigmas attached to the device?
Does anyone remember iPhone 4's antenna flaw? How about the original iPhone rolling out a $200 price cut two months after hitting the market? This is a new product category for Apple, and while software glitches can be remedied through downloadable updates it's a whole new ball game when hardware or pricing is the problem.
One can always argue that a customer can cancel a pre-order before the device is ready to ship out if the late-April consumer reviews are cruel, or flip it for a profit if scarcity remains an issue, but remember that time that you forgot to send in the mail-in rebate for that thing you bought? Exactly.
There's also the very real possibility that Apple can update its smartwatch as early as this fall. There was some chatter earlier this year that the company would do exactly that. The new device, after all, can use some technical improvements. The 18-hour battery life is the lowest among major smartwatches already on the market. Fitness enthusiasts have also been hesitant to buy a tracker that doesn't have built-in GPS, forcing them to exercise with their phones and smartwatches if they want GPS functionality. These two features could be and should be improved when Apple updates the product line, and who knows what early adopters will be clamoring for Apple to beef up when they actually start wearing these out in the wild?
Apple has usually stuck to annual updates, but there are exceptions. There was a lull of less than eight months between the third and fourth generations of the iPad in 2012. If Apple can make such an update on its first foray into wearable computing you can imagine it would want to do so ahead of this year's holiday shopping season.
Waiting could pay off. Apple's introduction of the iPad launched the consumer tablet market, but it also legitimized the opportunities for lower-cost Android alternatives. This challenged management into ramping up its features, keeping prices in check, and ultimately releasing cheaper or smaller editions below the original $499 starting price point. The smartwatch market might be an entirely different market this holiday season with Apple's validation than it has been the past two years, and that's one more reason why I can wait until this summer to see the lay of the land before deciding if I want Apple to take me by the wrist.