Apple fans who wanted an Apple Watch but have been waiting for a discount can finally consider buying the company’s first wearable device. All Apple Watch variants stocked at Best Buy are now being offered at a $100 discount. That’s an unusually large discount; while Target has technically been offering the watch for $100 off, the discount came in the form of a Target gift card, which may or may not be particularly useful for some shoppers.
The discount is active on all 21 Apple Watch variants that Best Buy stocks online. The discount reduces the price of a 38mm space gray Apple Watch Sport to just $249 and the cost of the 42mm version to $299. The 42mm Apple Watch with a space black stainless steel case now costs $499, while the 42mm Apple Watch with the Milanese Loop band costs $599 on sale. (The 38mm version of each of those models costs $5o less than the larger 42mm variant.)
Rich McCormick reports for The Verge that Best Buy offered a similar deal during its Black Friday promotion. However, that offer applied a $100 discount to the price of the higher-end Apple Watch models, but gave only a smaller discount on the less expensive Apple Watch models.
Best Buy’s deal makes it the best place to buy the Apple Watch for the time being. In addition to Target’s discount in the form of a Target gift card, B&H is also offering discounts on some models of the Apple Watch. Even Apple hasn’t offered such an enticing discount on the wearable. Back in October, it offered $50 off the purchase price of the Apple Watch, but only if the wearable was purchased at the same time as a brand-new iPhone.
Stan Schroeder reports for Mashable that while Best Buy’s discount is definitely the best deal you can get on the Apple Watch, the promotion raises the question of how well the device is selling. Apple refuses to divulge specific sales numbers for the Apple Watch, which makes it particularly hard to gauge how popular the wearable has proven. It also calls into question the prediction that the Apple Watch would be the must-have holiday gift this season.
Such uncertainties are also amplified by the growing consciousness that the current Apple Watch models on offer will likely be replaced by updated versions soon. The appearance of the discount at Best Buy could also indicate that a second-generation model of the Apple Watch isn’t far away. A number of rumors and reports about Apple’s plans have claimed that Apple could launch its next version of the device early in 2016, though the company hasn’t made any official announcements yet.
Dan De Silva reports for 9to5Mac that the discount is just the latest illustration of how Apple’s launch of its first wearable has been out of character for the company, beginning with a complicated rollout and progressing toward messy software updates. Now, in the third quarter of the watch’s availability, inventory levels have settled and bugs have been fixed, but the significant price drop is disconcerting — especially considering the fact that previous Apple products were hardly discounted at all, let alone while they were new and still within close reach of the cycle of speculation and anticipation that preceded their launch. (The notable exception being the original iPhone, which quickly received a $200 price cut.)
De Silva reports that Apple “most certainly has a say” as to whether a major retailer like Best Buy can offer steep discounts on the Apple Watch. So what’s going on? “Is this Apple acknowledging that it overpriced Apple Watch for the market?” De Silva speculates. “Is Apple feeling the heat from low-cost alternatives, especially since Android Wear is now compatible with iOS? Or maybe demand has been sagging and this is Apple’s way of trying to jumpstart sales? Perhaps Apple would like to clear out inventory now that a new model is expected in March.”
It’s impossible to parse exactly what the Apple Watch means, both in its current iterations and performance and what Apple expects in the future. Regardless of how interesting the discount is to those who analyze Apple’s moves, it’s hard to deny that a significant discount is great for consumers, especially ones who have been waiting for a price cut to try out the new device.