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The Apple Watch begins shipping in just over a month, but Apple has already taken measures to prepare its stores. While speculations abound that the tech giant plans to reconfigure the entire open plan layout of Apple stores for the new watch's arrival, it has already made one definitive power play by pulling all competing fitness bands from its retail floors.
Options like Jawbone Up and Nike+ FuelBand are conspicuously absent from all major Apple locations, including the ones in SF and in Palo Alto, Re/code reports. And Jawbone isn't the only San Francisco fitness tracker that Apple is snubbing: the company pulled Fitbit products from its stores last fall.
Apple has also relegated the Mio, a heart rate tracking wristband, to the online store. "[Apple said it] brought in a new executive in the marketing area who wanted to rework branding for the stores, and to make the Apple brand more front and center and clean up and minimize the number of accessories," Liz Dickinson, Mio's CEO and founder, tells Re/code in regards to the decision to move the product completely online. Although Mio can't say for sure that the change has anything to do with the upcoming introduction of the Apple Watch, the pub references Apple's history with cleaning house of competition (i.e. Bose headphones following Bose's lawsuit against Apple-owned Beats).
It's not surprising that changes are afloat with the highly-anticipated release, but Apple's subtle —or not so subtle?— guidance toward a single option for fitness tracking may raise eyebrows. It's the first of what's sure to be many tactics to help sales of the Apple Watch, and the plan's success or failure will recalibrate Apple's standings in today's retail landscape.