Coronavirus Threatens The Next Generation Of Smartphones


Coronavirus Threatens The Next Generation Of Smartphones

Every Autumn, Mazen Kourouche heads to the biggest Apple Store in Sydney, Australia, and queues up for hours to be one of the first people in the world to get his hands on the latest iPhone.

“Since the iPhone 7 came out I’ve been lining up for the new Apple devices for a few reasons: firstly the hype associated with them, secondly because of the resale value, and thirdly because Australia is the first country to get access to the devices, so people are interested in hearing about it,” he says.

According to Mr Kourouche, who develops software for the iPhone operating system (iOS), many people would usually travel from overseas to get their hands on the iPhone in Australia. The nation’s time zone means its Apple stores are the first to open around the world on launch day.

This year could be different though. Like most other retailers, Apple has closed its shops around the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s still too early to say whether the shops will be back open in the time for the launch of new devices in the autumn.

But in some countries the picture is not encouraging. In the UK, the government has said that it could be between three to six months before normal life will resume and that includes re-opening non-essential shops.

In the case of Apple, it has its iPhone 12 waiting in the wings. It’s a particularly important phone, as it’s the first to incorporate 5G technology, allowing it to connect with the new generation of faster phone networks.

Sources have told the Japanese publication Nikkei that Apple is weighing up whether to delay that launch.

The same may be true for devices manufactured by Samsung and other rivals that use the Android operating system.

Production of phones has already been disrupted,

“Approximately 70% of smartphones are manufactured in China – so as the pandemic hit China, there has been significant disruption to the supply of existing devices,” says Razat Gaurav, chief executive of Llamasoft, a supply chain analytics company.

Many smartphone makers rely on components that are made in China and South Korea, two nations that have been hardest hit by the outbreak.

The South Korean city of Daegu, where most of the country’s coronavirus cases are clustered, is only 20 minutes away from the area where many of those components are produced.

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And it’s not just supply, demand has fallen dramatically. Shipments of smartphones in China tumbled by 40% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the same period last year, according to research firm IDC.

The company suggests that Chinese consumers will buy 33 million fewer phones in the first three months of the year.

“We’re likely to see significant drops in Western Europe and the US as well,” Gaurav adds.

Coronavirus Threatens The Next Generation Of Smartphones


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