As Apple looks to drum up sales of its first-ever smartwatch this holiday season, it is rolling the gadget out this month to Target Corp.’s 1,800 stores and website.
In doing so, the Minneapolis-based retailer becomes the second mass merchant retailer in the U.S. to carry the Apple Watch.
Apple Inc. first launched the closely watched product on its website in April and in its retail stores by mid-June.
Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc. followed soon after, getting its hands on the watch in August. After seeing strong demand at select stores where it carried it, the electronics chain hastened the rollout plan and had it in most of its stores by the end of September.
“We’re very excited by the early momentum of Apple Watch in our stores,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told investors in August.
Mobile carriers T-Mobile and Sprint started selling the watch last week.
At the same time, some critics have been calling the watch a flop amid mixed reviews and unclear sales volumes. Some analysts also say the watch, which starts at $349, needs to come down in price before it has more widespread appeal.
During Apple’s third-quarter earnings call in July, CEO Tim Cook said sales of the watch had exceeded the company’s expectations. While he did not release sales numbers, he said the watch’s pace of sales outstripped those of the original iPhone and iPad when they first launched.
Cook also said then that Apple planned to expand its distribution to more stores later this year. “We’re convinced that the watch is going to be one of the top gifts of the holiday season,” he said.
On Friday, Apple would not provide any details about its future distribution plans in the U.S.
The Apple Watch will begin showing up in some Target stores this week and will become available chainwide by Oct. 25. It will also be for sale on Target.com on Oct. 18.
Target will sell 20 models of the watch, with a more limited selection in stores. It will sell versions that range from $349 to $599. It will not carry the more high-end versions, called Apple Watch Edition, including one that is priced around $17,000.