The original Apple Watch was unveiled alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014, with pre-orders beginning the following year on April 10, 2015. When the wearable was officially released two weeks later on April 24, Apple Watch shipping estimates quickly began to slip, with some models seeing delays of up to August, five months after the initial release.
Within a report by Bloomberg which delves into the roll of Jeff Williams at Apple, Mark Gurman claims to shed some light on the Apple Watch launch delays, citing Jeff Williams and one of the most pivotal decisions he made in his career in the months leading up to the release of the wearable.
According to the report, prior to the launch of the Apple Watch, some employees testing the device reported allergic reactions to the nickel used in the chassis of the device. As Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the development of the wearable alongside the supply chain which produced it, Williams chose to completely scrap all Apple Watch models which had been manufactured and stockpiled ahead of its release, a bold move which meant Apple had to destroy the inventory it had and source an alternative material.
Additionally, Bloomberg claims Williams was informed of problems with the Taptic Engine on some early Apple Watch models. Williams apparently distributed some defective Apple Watch models amongst employees and scrapped the rest as a result.
At the time, the long wait for Apple Watch was heavily criticised, and many saw the never-ending production delays as an inability on Apple’s part to breakaway from the norm and work on a completely new product category, though if Gurman’s report is to be believed, the eight month wait from when the product was first unveiled to when it was released was actually because Apple wasn’t willing to ship a product it knew was faulty, or had the potential to cause harm/discomfort to customers.
Bloomberg’s report cites Jeff Williams as the second-most important person at Apple, and first in line to succeed Cook when the time comes for him to step down as Apple CEO.