“China, the world’s biggest manufacturing hub and home to many tech companies, has been on lockdown due to coronavirus that has killed nearly 1,500 people”
The deadly coronavirus is wreaking havoc in China, the country where it originated. With roughly 1,500 dead and thousands infected, the outbreak has brought the country to a standstill. And this nation-wide shutdown is affecting businesses too, the technology industry in particular. Some of the world’s largest manufacturers of mobile phones, computers, and televisions are on lockdown due to coronavirus. As a result, manufacturing outputs from iPhones to LCD televisions are being delayed, forcing major brands to either postpone their launches or deal with product shortages. Additionally, the largest tech show of the year, the Mobile World Congress (MWC), has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears. The situation is likely to become more pressing as time goes on unless a cure is found, and the companies will have to deal with more problems than what they already have on their plates right now.
How coronavirus is affecting the tech industry
- MWC cancelled
Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 not happening this year is probably the biggest blow to the tech industry due to coronavirus. The annual industry gathering where companies showcase their latest and greatest offerings was scheduled to open on February 24th in Barcelona, Spain. However, the organiser of the event, GSMA, said in a statement that the coronavirus outbreak has made it “impossible” to hold MWC 2020. Household brands such as LG, Xiaomi, Nokia, Vivo, Vodafone, Sony, Amazon, Samsung, TCL, Nvidia, and Ericsson, among others were all expected to take the stage at the event but backed out. This led to GSMA cancelling the event.
- iPhone 9 production delayed, Apple stores shut
Not just MWC 2020, coronavirus has also affected the production of several smartphones, including Apple's upcoming iPhone 9/ SE 2. The handset is rumoured to launch next month; however, analysts claim Apple is facing troubles with its manufacturing due to the shudown. The iPhone 9 production has reportedly been delayed by a week or more, which in turn may lead to a significant impact on its shipments. Apple, meanwhile, has temporarily shuttered all of its 42 stores till at least February 18th, along with corporate offices and contact centres in mainland China.
- OnePlus 8 series launch delayed
OnePlus 8 series, which is expected to launch as early as March-end, could be delayed due to coronavirus as well. Popular tipster @OnLeaks claims that the handsets' production in China has been hampered. This could mean a delay in the shipment of the lineup, which is rumoured to include OnePlus 8, 8 Pro, and 8 Lite, and thereby, its announcement. The successor to OnePlus 7T series is expected to be rock Snapdragon 865 SoC, punch-hole display with up to 120Hz refresh rate, quad-camera setup, wireless charging tech. The OnePlus 8 Lite, meanwhile, could come with a mid-range chipset.
- Redmi Note 8 price hiked
Coronavirus has forced Xiaomi to increase the price of its budget-centric Redmi Note 8 smartphone. The handset price in India now starts at Rs 10,499 and Rs 10,999 in the online and offline markets respectively for the base 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant. This is Rs 500 increase over the smartphone’s launch price. As reported by 91mobiles exclusively, "the company expects a slowdown in its supply-chain in China following the extended shutdown in the country due to the deadly coronavirus." Notably, Xiaomi has called this price hike temporary, so we can expect the price to be rolled back in the future.
- ASUS ROG Phone 2 out of stock
The acclaimed ASUS ROG Phone 2 gaming-centric smartphone went out of stock earlier this month due to the disruption in the supply chain caused by coronavirus. The handset will not be available for sale until "further updates," said ASUS in a statement.
Apart from that, OEMs are also pushing the launch of their new devices to future dates. OPPO, which was slated to launch its flagship OPPO Find X2 on February 22nd, has been cancelled and postponed to an unspecified day in March. Similarly, LG, Sony, and NVIDIA will also showcase their new products at future events instead of MWC. There is no confirmation from Nokia, Vivo, Intel, and Motorola, which have also cancelled their appearance at MWC, about their future events. Realme, meanwhile, will be holding an online event to launch its flagship Realme X50 Pro via an online event.
That said, there is one sector of the tech industry that hasn’t suffered much from the coronavirus outbreak is online entertainment. Based on a report by Barrons, China’s playtimes and in-game purchases have surged since January. But such gains won’t last long if the virus continues to spread and threaten one of the world’s largest economies. Coronavirus, now officially called COVID-19, has been declared as a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).