Apple is strongly considering delaying the launch of its 5G-equipped 2020 iPhone lineup, says a report from Japanese news site Nikkei.
The publication reports “sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans” have told them that Apple has held internal discussions about the possibility of delaying the launch “by months” due to fears over how well the new handsets would sell in the current situation. Supply chain sources indicate “practical hurdles” could push back the launch date, which was scheduled for September.
“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone,” said a source with direct knowledge of the discussion. “They need the first 5G iPhone to be a hit.”
Apple is currently monitoring the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks in the United States and Europe as they assess whether a delay might be necessary. Apple could make a final decision around May at the latest. The company could wait to finalize the launch timing until the company’s work from home order for its employees expires.
Apple recently extended its worldwide work from home order until April 8, and stores are expected to begin opening again in mid-April.
Engineering development of the 2020 iPhone has reportedly been affected by global travel restrictions. Apple usually works with suppliers in early March to develop prototypes for new iPhones but has had to delay the meeting twice. Suppliers believe this indicates a delay “is looming.”
“We have been notified to start shipping in big volumes to meet Apple’s new product launch by the end of August, instead of like in previous years, when it would be sometime in June,” said a supplier of components related to printed circuit boards. “The change was made very recently, and that could imply that the mass production of the phone could also be delayed for months.”
Apple’s discussions are said to be in the early stages, indicating that a fall launch isn’t completely off the table. Worst case, the launch of a 5G iPhone could be postponed until next year.