Year-End Surprise Product Launches Can’t Come Cheap

Michael Steeber, in his latest Tabletops newsletter:

For a moment over the holiday break, Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models were unavailable to purchase in-store and online in the U.S. due to a patent dispute. The disruption led to some very unusual displays in U.S. stores, where it’s a bit more challenging to elegantly remove a product from sale than on a webpage.

Sparse, temporary risers featuring Apple Watch SE and simply labeled WATCH were added to Apple Watch display tables. Demo models were reduced, and the Explore app running on the iPads was pared back to highlight Apple Watch SE.

The Apple Watch Hermès bay at Apple Park Visitor Center was also removed and replaced with a new display featuring recycled Nike bands, though it’s unclear to me if this was related to the ban or simply a change of seasons.

Since Apple appealed the sales ban, more watch models have begun to reappear in stores.

I wonder how many human work hours were put into the logistics of removing all the Apple Watch stuff from stores and the website. It must have been all hands on deck to create the custom risers, change the code of all the iPad displays, swap out graphics, and the countless other inventory management tasks that go unnoticed. It must have been like an unexpected product launch right before Christmas, and then another one a few days later to put it all back.



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