The coronavirus has now reached Japan and Germany, and the Chinese death toll has grown to more than 100. And new reports have suggested that it could have secondary consequences too. effect of the disease could delay Apple’s production of new iPhones.
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The rumoured iPhone SE 2 had been expected to come out in March, but an anonymous supply chain executive, whose trip to China was postponed due to the virus, told Nikkei: “The [coronavirus] situation in China could affect the planned production schedule.” Other suppliers gave the business publication similar tip-offs.
Apple had reportedly asked its suppliers to manufacture up to 80 million iPhones (of various models) over the first half of 2020. This would represent a step-up in production but suppliers have suggested that production schedules will be delayed.
While this is far less alarming than the more obvious effects of the virus, it’s perhaps a knock-on effect that some did not immediately foresee. We will have to wait to find out whether other tech companies with Chinese facilities or suppliers will be affected.
China’s attempts to stop the spread of coronavirus have been understandably desperate, but they have certainly divided opinion. The Atlantic called the government’s methods “a radical experiment in authoritarian medicine”.
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On Friday last week, the government declared a quarantine situation in Wuhan. It stopped trains, public transport and air travel, as well as advising people not to spit or “spread alarmist rumours”.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the situation as it unfolds. While the virus has many more regrettable effects, its effect on the tech industry has the potential to be fairly sizeable.