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Five strange things about Friday’s Apple Watch launch

The Apple Watch has arrived. The tech giant's first wearable gadget launched globally on Friday. Here are five ways today's launch is very strange.

Toru Hanai/REUTERS

The social media frenzy begins

Late Thursday night, folks in Australia were the first to start getting their Watches delivered and almost immediately the social media frenzy began. Instagram filled up with pictures people snapped of their Watches. So far, an unscientific survey suggests a lot of people ordered the Sport version with a rubberized band.

In short order, we expect iFixit or some other intrepid tech marauder will disassemble a Watch for our vicarious pleasure.


How many of these things are shipping today?

Analysts have predicted everything from 3 million to 20 million pre-orders were taken by Apple (the company is not confirming). What’s not clear is how many pre-ordered Watches arrive on Friday. It’s launching in nine countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K., though the focus for Apple is likely to be on serving its home market in the U.S. A lot of customers got warnings their shipments could be delayed until June, which prompted a few mini freakouts.

But then, Apple released this statement earlier this week, muddying the waters further:

“We’re happy to be updating many customers today with the news that their Apple Watch will arrive sooner than expected. Our team is working to fill orders as quickly as possible based on the available supply and the order in which they were received. We know many customers are still facing long lead times and we appreciate their patience.”

Business as usual in Toronto

Globe and Mail reporter Lyn Lopez visited the Eaton Centre’s Apple Store in downtown Toronto at midday on Friday and found business as usual. The majority of people who went into the store were interested in everything but the Watch, shopping to replace broken chargers or to look at MacBooks, iPads and iPhones.

Some customers leaving the store said the product was a luxury they didn't need. Others thought it would be prudent to buy the next generation version after kinks from the first are worked out.

Michael Murphy, 31, pre-ordered the Watch and plans to use it as a fitness tracker.

It’s attractive in the boardroom and it’ll look good on the weekends, said the consultant from Toronto. Mr. Murphy booked an appointment on Friday 20 minutes before going into the store to try the Watch on for size. He expects to receive his on May 13.

John Leger, 38, who calls himself "a techy," also pre-ordered the Watch online but came to the store for a closer look. He believes he'll have to wait four to six weeks for delivery.

Toru Hanai/REUTERS

Think there’s any point in my lining up to get one?

Nope. Apple is not selling these things in retail stores until May, at the earliest. You may have heard that a small number of fancy jeweler boutiques might be getting Edition versions (the mucho expensive $10,000 and up gold variant). That’s true, but it’s a short list: “The Corner in Berlin, Maxfield in Los Angeles and Dover Street Market in Tokyo and London,” Reuters reports.

Sadly, even though Canada has a few high-end shopping districts Apple spokespeople confirmed no shops that cater to Canada’s 1 per cent will be getting any exclusive Watches on launch day.

Although that won’t stop people who don’t hang on every official Apple policy announcement, like these hapless folks.

Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Well, at least no one else gets them

Actually, a lot of VIPs have already been seeded with ultra-exclusive luxury Edition Watch versions (Beyonce, among other leading citizens). Perhaps the best review by a celebrity is still Pharrell’s epic take. Some members of the software development community have also been given an expedited window of delivery, and they should have them by April 28.

Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

What does this thing even do?

Well, there are a lot of reviews out there you can read, and there are also a lot of third-party app announcements flying around. The Watch-specific App Store went live Thursday (you can find it inside the special Apple Watch app that loaded itself onto your iPhone in the most recent iOS update) and it’s filled with stuff that promises to give you glanceable, wrist-borne actions. Full disclosure, The Globe and Mail has made a Watch version of our news app (we think it’s pretty dandy), but there’s a huge volume of other Canadian content on there from CIBC, Air Canada, TheScore, CBC News, 1Password and even the made-in-Canada app Transit (for, you know, local transit updates).

The shorter answer is: We’re all about to find out. Keep in mind most developers made their apps without the ability to test on a real Watch, and users will likely define their ideal use over time. What we think the Apple Watch is for today will almost certainly be different from what we’ll think a year from now.

By then, maybe you can walk into a store and buy one.

With files from reporter Lyn Lopez in Toronto

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