Tech companies are responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by limiting travel, cancelling major events and fighting growing misinformation on their platforms.
If you’re in the market for new devices, then you may experience delays in shipping as factories in China temporarily close – or run a limited operation – to combat the virus. Similarly tech companies are cancelling launch events which may change release dates of devices.
Here’s how the tech industry has been affected by COVID-19. For the last information about COVID-19, visit the World Health Organisation’s website for up to date advice and news.
- Update 03/16: Repair shops are struggling to keep afloat because of a shortage of parts coming out of China. I spoke with several third party stores in London who described the situation as a “nightmare”, particularly for Apple and OnePlus displays. Read more here.
- Update 03/16: WWDC will be going ahead as an online streaming event in June this year (no specific date announced), with no physical event taking place because of COVID-19. It sounds like Apple will do more than just stream product announcements and instead offer space for sessions and online meetings. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing explained that WWDC will offer “a new format” that “delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community”.
- Update 03/11: Sources speaking with Cult of Mac are claiming that the iPhone SE 2 (or iPhone 9) will be delayed indefinitely because of production issues related to the virus outbreak and a local government ban on gatherings of more than 1000 people, which a launch event might have exceeded.
- Update 07/03: Two of Apple’s major upcoming devices could face delays because of COVID-19. Bank of America – speaking with an expert on the company’s supply chain – has claimed that Apple’s 5G iPhone and its iPhone SE2 could be delayed by “months” because of the temporary shut down of factories in China.
- Update 07/03: Retailers in the New York area are reporting low stock of iPhone 11 devices and “infrequent” shipments, with little guidance on when normal service will be resumed.
- Sources speaking to Bloomberg claim that Apple told store employees that replacement parts for broken iPhones will be in short supply for two to four weeks because of the outbreak.
- Apple has temporarily closed stores in China and Italy – although its flagship Hong Kong store is still open.
- Apple’s special event that is typically held in March – which usually introduces new models to existing lines like the Apple Watch, iPad and the iPhone SE – is yet to be confirmed. Considering the big tech events that have already been cancelled (MWC, Google I/O etc) and Apple pulling out of SXSW, there’s a decent chance the physical event will be cancelled too.
- Devices appear to be readily available to buy on Apple’s website with no notice of delays.
- Update 02/16: Samsung is launching a service that will sanitise people’s tech products for free in 19 countries. It uses a UV light instead of chemicals, which the Korean company argues could damage the phone’s performance. Sammobile claims it’s currently available in the US and will be launching elsewhere soon.
- Update 03/10: Samsung has asked the Vietnamese government to exempt 700 of its engineers entering the country from its 14 day mandatory quarantine. The engineers are en-route to a Samsung Display factory that assembles displays for upcoming products from Apple and Huawei.
- Samsung is temporarily shifting its smartphone production operation from South Korea to Vietnam after a worker tested positive for COVID-19 in a factory in Gumi, South Korea, which produces some of its latest Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Z Flip devices.
- The latest S20 models, Galaxy Buds+ and Galaxy Z Flip appear to be readily available on Samsung’s website with no notice of delay.
- Samsung is staying tight lipped about any production issues it might be facing for its latest devices, simply telling me “we are making our best effort to minimise impact on our operations”.
- Motorola’s new foldable phone, the Razr, is facing delays until “mid to end of March” in Australia, although for US and UK buyers devices appear to be readily available.
- Motorola told me that there are no issues with the current supply of devices and that output was only temporarily slowed down because of the outbreak, but it’s returning to normal now.
- Google’s annual I/O conference, where devices like the Pixel 4A and Pixel Buds 2 likely would’ve debuted, has been cancelled because of COVID-19. Google was vague about how this might affect shipments of current or future devices when I asked, only saying that it is monitoring and assessing the situation constantly and putting the health of its company and employees first. I’ve asked for more details and will update this post if I receive anything.
- Google moved quickly to shut down misinformation. I searched for “Coronavirus” and “COVID-19” on the Play Store a few days ago and found nothing – not even related apps.
- Devices appear to be readily available on the Google store with no notice of delays.
- There’s no information about possibly cancelling its annual Surface event (which typically takes place around October), where we’ll likely see more of its Surface Duo and Surface Neo devices.
- Microsoft predicts that PC sales will take a hit because of supply chain issues in China.
- The tech giant is also allowing its workers to work from home until March 25th.
- 9to5 Google claims that OnePlus will hold an online-only launch event for its upcoming OnePlus 8 – although OnePlus disputes that this is directly related to the outbreak.
- It’s not clear if OnePlus is suffering from any supply chain issues for its current or future handsets – OnePlus told me it’s not commenting on COVID-19.
- Devices appear to be readily available on OnePlus’ website with no notice of delays.
- LG Display temporarily closed a factory in Gumi, South Korea because an employee at a bank near to the factory tested positive for the virus.
- LG Innotek , which supplies camera modules for smartphones, temporarily closed a factory also in Gumi because an employee tested positive for COVID-19.