This morning, 10th April 2015 at 8:00am the Apple Watch went on sale for the first time. By 8:01am we'd bought two - a Sport model and the slightly more expensive standard model. We've resisted the pull of the £8,000+ models for now.
"Why do you need it?" we hear you ask, a question echoed by thousands - millions? - of significant others around the world.
The answer goes something like this:
Wearable technology is undoubtedly a growing market. We don't know what the next generation of wearables will look like, or what they'll do, but it's safe to say the Apple Watch will have a huge influence in this space once people get their hands on it.
Our commitment at TheTicketSellers is to be at the forefront of technology. We've invested heavily in our technical team and we're continuing to invest in the tools and technologies they need.
For example, if you turn up at one of the events we're working at (Birmingham Pride for example?) with your ticket proudly displayed on your watch then we want to make sure our system will let you in, hassle free.
If you want to buy a drink at the bar at a festival using your watch, well, why shouldn't you? It's our job to make sure you can.
You can use your watch to summon a lift with our partner company Uber so why shouldn't you be able to, for example, find last minute ticket availability with a shake of your wrist?
We're excited about the future of technology and see the Apple Watch as just another step along that path. We'll report back once ours have arrived and we've got something interesting running on them.
Apple isn't expected to release any pre-sales figures but it's safe to say that the website would have come under a heavy load earlier today. Buyers from all around the world descended on the website to place their orders for the Apple Watch.
As well as placing our order as early as possible we took the opportunity to assess the performance of the Apple website under these conditions. After all, our goal is to build the most scalable ticketing platform in the events industry.
Apple keeps their store offline for up to a few hours prior to new products going on sale. Presumeably this is to ensure everything is in place before metophorically opening the doors to the public, and perhaps also to increase the hype surrounding the launch.
The first thing we noticed this morning was the Apple Store app (for iOS) came online before the website. In fact, we'd completed our entire transaction using the app before the website came back online.
We can speculate that perhaps the website and the app use a shared underlying API layer. Once this became available again the app sprang into life and it's feasible that at this point the website could have been used to place orders if the holding page hadn't still been in place.
Next we noticed that the 'public' parts of the website remained responsive (i.e. they suffered no performance degredation) throughout the busy period following 8am. However, the 'secure' parts of the website (i.e. everything you see after you sign in) suffered from poor performance almost immediately and continue to do so now, 2 hours later.
It appears that Apple serves as much static* content as possible from a CDN, which is a totally separate set of servers to the dynamic* content. This makes perfect sense. Content which is the same for every visitor to the website can be served up quickly without any significant processing. Content which varies from user to user is processed and served up more slowly.
Finally, unlike our website Apple doesn't have to worry about products selling out in the way that we do. When we sell tickets to an event there is an absolute limit dictated by the organisers or their licensing agreement. Once we sell say, 1000 tickets, we can't sell any more. Apple on the other hand can keep selling products for as long as they want to keep making them. All that changes is the delivery dates slips from 2 weeks (in the case of the Apple watch) to 4-6 weeks and later to 2+ months.
This means they can keep processing orders and simply inform customers of the actual delivery date later on. By not needing to constantly check the available quantity of a product Apple can remove the dependency on a single point of truth in the system and therefore gain some scalability.
Apple's scalability failures have been well documented in the past, but it appears that when it comes to scaling their online store they've applied some basic but solid engineering practices and delivered a good experience to most shoppers.
Or perhaps we're just feeling generous because we got our order in the first batch with the earliest delivery date! Other commentators have expressed their frustration at their estimated delivery date being several months away.
And it is frustrating to wait for things in this age of immediate gratification. That's why we're doing all we can to engage our customers and help them buy tickets as quickly as possible.
Whether it's our natural curiosity in new technology, or the investment we're putting into making our ticket sales platform as scalable as possible we're serious about continuing to innovate and deliver industry leading solutions.
So far in 2015 we've assembled a new team within our technical division. This team has been given one goal - to deliver the best ticketing website in the world. Once we can entice them away from their shiny new laptops and hundreds of monitors they'll be blogging their journey. It's already begun, and we're already really excited about the end result.
* Note - these days the terms static and dynamic don't really mean what they used to. I was using them to differentiate between content which is the same for everyone and content which differs from user to user.