Apple’s production plans for the much-rumored “iPhone 9,” the iPhone SE replacement said to be readying for production next month, could be impacted by the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak that has caused over 100 deaths in China.
Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman reports the majority of Apple’s iPhone production is located in China, by Foxconn in Zhengzhou and by Pegatron at an assembly plant near Shanghai. Both locations are over 500 kilometers away from the epicenter of the virus outbreak. However, many believe Apple’s iPhone production could be impacted.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where the supply chain isn’t disrupted,” said veteran industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “If there’s one major hiccup in the raw materials, fabrication, assembly, test, and shipping, it will be a disruption.”
While the coronavirus likely won’t impact Apple’s 2020 flagship devices, which are traditionally launched in September, the company is reportedly prepping a new lower-cost iPhone that will debut during the first half of 2020, possibly as early as March. Mass production of the cheaper iPhone is reportedly due to start in the third week of February.
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus are rising in Henan province, where Foxconn’s Zhengzhou facility is located, and that could lead to the company or the government to close factories to prevent further spreading of the virus.
Foxconn says it is monitoring the situation and is following all recommended health practices. A company spokesperson said, “We can confirm that we have measures in place to ensure that we can continue to meet all global manufacturing obligations.”
As pointed out by Gurman, Apple dual-sources many of its components as a way to mitigate the impact of events such as the coronavirus, so the true impact of the situation may be minimal.