Apple May Push First 5G Phone Back Due to Covid-19 Outbreak

It’s no surprise to many that the coronavirus has greatly impacted the entire world and even tech-giants like Apple are not immune. Apple may have to push back their highly-anticipated 5G phone because of challenges related to Covid-19. 

While there’s nothing concrete yet, sources told Nikkei Asian Review that Apple may delay the release by months. This is mostly due to the concern that consumers won’t be buying because of the ongoing global pandemic, in addition to already disrupted supply chain issues affecting product development timing. 

While there is nothing concrete, it’s all still in the early stages of discussion and the worst-case scenario is the launch would be pushed until 2021. It’s likely a decision will be made by the end of May, so there’s still time for things to change. 

In an effort to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, Apple temporarily closed all of their retail stores outside of Greater China until further notice and asked that employees work from home. In a memo obtained by Bloomberg, Apple may open their stores in the beginning of April, but that’s all dependent on the current state of the community. 

Almost half of the U.S. is under lockdown, with local officials urging residents to stay home. Other countries like France and Italy have also implemented strict quarantine efforts in response to the virus. Apple’s home state, California, has been ordered by their governor for their 40 million residents to stay home and for nonessential businesses to temporarily close. 

Travel bans have also impacted Apple’s production schedule because they’ve had to delay trips between the U.S. and China for in-person collaboration on finalizing the finished product. CNBC reported that JPMorgan Analysts said that Apple could delay the launch up to two months, but wouldn’t likely be any later than that. The firm also pointed out that 5G could also be pushed back with much of the country at home. 

One of Apple’s biggest rivals, Samsung has already launched several 5G phones but people aren’t flocking to the new technology just yet. Some analysts expected Apple’s 5G phone release to create a bigger interest in 5G capable devices. 

Before the coronavirus outbreak, AT&T COO John Stankey said that he expected a strong 5G device upgrade cycle in late 2020 since more favorable devices would be available. However this may be unlikely due to the state of the world as it stands. Currently, all four carriers in the U.S. have temporarily closed their stores. 

With the combination of the stay at home and shelter in place orders, plus the closing of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile stores it’s likely that the U.S. handset sales will see a major impact- including Apple in Q2. The smartphone market has already taken a hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Strategy Analytics released data that shows the global smartphone shipments took a 38% dive YOY in February because of the virus- which was noted as the biggest fall in the history of the worldwide smartphone market.
Source: Fierce Wireless