The Apple Watch won’t exactly be hurting for apps at launch — it’s already managed to accrue a ton — but the more the better, right? At least, that’s the message Apple’s sending with its latest developer-targeted scheme. While Apple Watch units that ship before June are now beyond the reach of most folk, a handful of app developers have begun receiving emails offering a chance to buy an Apple Watch Sport with a ship date of April 28.
It’s a lottery system that’ll be familiar to developers who’ve signed up for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in the past: Hopeful individuals register for a chance to purchase and pray the gods of randomness come down in their favor. There isn’t any recourse for the unlucky ones, unfortunately — They’ll have to preorder a watch the usual way, or try their luck on the reseller market.
The measure may seem extreme, but the reason likely has to do with constrained supply. Apple reportedly cut its order for the Apple Watch in half due to fabrication issues with the device’s sapphire display, and low yields continue. According to the Taiwanese website Economic Daily News, component failure rates as high as 70 percent led to an initial stock of 1.25 to 1.5 million Apple Watches, far short of the anticipated 2.5 to 3 million.
Voracious demand has been a contributing factor, too. Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts said earlier this month that based on “the tremendous interest from people visiting [Apple] stores” and “the number of customers who have gone to the Apple Online Store to mark their favorite Apple Watch ahead of availability,” sellouts were likely. That statement proved prescient, as the initial batch of Apple Watches sold out within the first 10 to 30 minutes of availability.
The many developers who don’t manage to manage to get their hands on Apple Watch hardware can use the emulator within Xcode to get an idea of the watch’s behavior. It admittedly lacks some of the actual hardware’s functionality, but it’s basically the fastest (and only) way to beat the game developers, healthcare companies, and social networks that haven’t announced Apple Watch support to the punch.