Apple’s iPhone 12 preparations are likely to be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
By February, Apple’s engineers typically spend time in China as the company gears up to manufacture the next-generation iPhones, but that work has been delayed because of travel restrictions over the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak happening around the world.
According to Reuters, Apple employees have said it “could be bad” if engineers cannot meet with Foxconn engineers to plan the production for the new iPhone, and that delays are likely.
“They probably have one assembly line they’re trying things out on,” one of the Apple former employees who asked not to be named discussing production matters told Reuters News.
“Are Apple’s engineers with the Foxconn engineers? If they are, they’re probably making progress. But if they’re not, if they’re quarantined, that could be bad.”
Insiders suggest that prototyping for a new iPhone normally picks up after the Lunar New Year celebrations and that by February, Apple is in the late stages of engineering validation, which involves suppliers assembling a small number of devices to test manufacturing.
Delays at this critical stage could eat into the amount of time Apple has when it finalizes orders for parts and components, which could have a long-term impact on iPhone 12 supply.
One executive at a semiconductor firm said that right now, there’s no “face-to-face work being done,” adding that it’s “probably not going to change for another month at best. You’re really talking about two lost months, which in the consumer electronics cycle is huge.”
Several Apple suppliers were shut down earlier in the month because of fears of spreading the coronavirus, and though some are now up and running, they’re unable to operate at full capacity because of labor shortages and ongoing travel restrictions and quarantines.
In the United States, airlines such as United, which has partnerships with Apple, has suspended flights to areas like Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Shanghai until April 24.
Apple has told investors that it won’t be able to meet revenue expectations due to shortages, but the long-term implications for the company are unknown.
If Chinese factories can return to normal within the next few weeks, the impact should be minimal; any longer, and there could be a delay to the launch of the iPhone 12 family from its predicted September keynote.
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