According to new reports, the contagious Coronavirus – which to date has claimed nearly 100 lives in China and has now spread across the Asian landscape – may soon derail the production of Apple’s next smartphone, the iPhone 9 – perhaps better known to followers of the rumor mill as the iPhone SE 2.
Although Apple usually unveils its mainstay iPhone units in September, the company is tipped to unveil a sequel to its popular ‘Special Edition’ iPhone in March this year targeted to audiences seeking a more accessible handset. Given the proximity of the outbreak (in calendar terms) to March, industry analysts have posited that Apple’s plans may now face significant difficulties.
Given Apple’s agreements with Chinese manufacturer – which largely produce the Cupertino firms smartphones in production plants on the Chinese mainland – the American firm might see its future production efforts derailed. Both of the company’s production plants – one located in Zhengzhou and the other, operated by Pegatron, in Shanghai – are less than 500 kilometers from Wuhan, the site of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking to the media, industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy quipped that “I can’t imagine a scenario where the supply chain isn’t disrupted… If there’s one major hiccup in the raw materials, fabrication, assembly, test, and shipping, it will be a disruption.”
Bloomberg‘s Matthew Kanterman, speaking to MacRumors, added that “Foxconn said it is monitoring the situation in China and following all recommended health practices. It declined to comment on production in specific locations but said, “We can confirm that we have measures in place to ensure that we can continue to meet all global manufacturing obligations.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly pledged that his company will donate funds towards support groups working with patients of the virus. With luck and hope, the outbreak will cease with no further lives lost.