“Blue Heart to Cart” – The Favorite Button as Indirect Product Ramp Guide

Is Apple finally getting with the times with the recently introduced favorite button for Apple Watch in the online Apple Store?

Whichever angle you choose (social media or supply chain), it occurred to me (yes, probably late) that Apple just implemented a tool with a potentially significant, though impossible-to-quantify, situational effect on all future product ramp-ups.

Of course, it’s only at its most useful (and likely to be used) in a single, time-limited context – when a given item (say, Apple Watch) is available for viewing but not pre-ordering. And yes, it’s only as potentially useful as it’s actually used – we’re highly unlikely to ever hear from Apple about “how many favorites” Watch received.

Then again, in the case of Apple Watch, there was an interval of about one month between the Mar. 9 event and the Apr. 10 pre-orders. Plenty of time for prospective customers with Apple IDs to basically submit “product preference data”. Which is pretty handy, since there’s 38 models of Apple Watch to choose from between cases and bands.

Yes, false positives, people changing their minds, spam, and so forth. But hey, analytics and the experts driving the state of analytics are supposed to account for that. Comb and filter for early indicators, maybe even patterns over time. And, given enough and enough useful data, all kinds of potentially useful metrics such as regional preferences can be teased out.

The cynically optimistic take? Hey, Apple always screws up product launches anyway. They NEVER make enough of X. So, heck, why not use that glaring flaw as cloud cover for testing assumptions from a few hundred thousand or million blue hearts?

Of course, “blue heart to cart” wouldn’t have saved the unicorn white iPhone 4 from delays – but it may have given an important clue or two to Apple about adjusting supply levels for launch. Which, at Apple’s for-the-moment-still-climbing revenue levels, is more important than ever. Even though iPhone 6S, iPad Air 3, and Apple Watch 2 likely won’t have anywhere near one month’s worth of “fav” data before pre-ordering – if the Blue Heart Experiment continues, that is – every hour, every minute of supply chain/product ramp intel counts.

Now is this novel? Maybe not. I don’t know enough to say, just enough to guess that it could be quite helpful for a company of Apple’s massive scale. Hey, they were late to the party with bigger-screened smartphones. Apple somehow made it through OK.

Maybe it’s just me, but a blue heart as a supplemental in-house competitive advantage (best-fitting initial and ongoing demand; not only getting intel on what people want, but just a bit more intel over time about how many to make) is a pretty darn useful spin on what some consider an afterthought-level gesture.

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