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A major part of Apple product launches isn't just getting to set up and play with a new gadget, but the experience of waiting in line. Over the years, it's become a part of Apple's culture, for better or worse, and it gets crazier with every new gadget. So it's a bit of a surprise to hear the company suddenly saying it would rather folks not wait in front of Apple stores when a new product is made available, and instead do their shopping online.

That's according to a new memo acquired by Business Insider. In it, Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts details a new plan of action that will see the company's employees actively encouraging consumers to buy their wares through Apple's online store. That's a splendid idea, but also confusing and not always the surest way to get what you want.

Apple typically celebrates how loyal its fanbase is with congratulatory videos of people waiting in line and buying the company's gadgets. You'd think Apple would encourage that kind of publicity. But the times they are a changin'. If it no longer wants people waiting outside its stores on big release days, who will Apple's employees clap for? Something to ponder.

The truth is that waiting in line has become a black market unto itself, with an entire mini economy built around major Apple releases. Maybe this is Apple's way of acknowledging that.

The problem with relying on online sales, however, is that Apple products tend to sell out within minutes of becoming available. When pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went live late last year, they were almost immediately sold out. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen to the upcoming Apple Watch—pre-orders for that go live this Friday at exactly 12:01 a.m. PDT.

Below you can see the full Ahrendts memo to Apple employees, as provided by Business Insider:

Get in line online

The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives.

This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to oder. You'll make their day.