Apple Tells Staffers They Can’t Point Watch Buyers to Best Buy
Apple Inc. is preparing to remove its popular smartwatches from sale in its US stores to comply with a trade regulation ruling. Other retailers can still sell the devices, but Apple has instructed its staff not to provide information on where to buy them.
Apple Inc. is on the verge of pulling its most popular smartwatches from sale at its US physical and online stores to comply with a trade regulation ruling. And while other retailers can continue to sell the devices, Apple has told staffers it can't let people know.
In a memo to customer service agents about the pending sales halt, employees are told not to point shoppers to places where they can buy the devices. “Unfortunately, due to the ongoing legal matter, I am not able to provide you with any information about where you can buy Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2,” they are told to say.
Apple was ordered to halt US sales of its flagship watches by the International Trade Commission, which ruled in October that the devices infringe on a patent to measure blood oxygen held by Masimo Corp. Barring a last-minute reprieve from US President Joe Biden, Apple will have to stop selling one of its best-selling items by Christmas day.
Major retailers such as Walmart Inc., Best Buy Co. and Target Corp. can continue to sell the watches, a loophole that a Masimo lawyer told Bloomberg News shouldn't be possible. An Apple spokesperson said the ITC order only applies to Apple itself.
Big retail stores likely have weeks or months of inventory for sales that Apple already incorporates into its quarterly revenue. But it's unclear if those retailers will be able to import additional Apple Watch units and if they will eventually run out of inventory before any Apple appeal.
Apple retail and customer service employees were also told not to speculate with customers on when or how the matter would be resolved. Apple's online store is scheduled to stop Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 sales on Thursday, while Apple's retail stores will halt sales by Christmas Eve.