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Is the age of Apple over? iPhone speculation and delays

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Apple’s 2020 iPhone launch plans seem to have been undermined by coronavirus, with both of its anticipated smartphone launches delayed – possibly for months.

Hey Siri, what on earth is happening?

If everything had gone according to plan (it didn’t), Apple was expected to introduce an iPhone 9 in March and the first 5G-enabled iPhone 12 in September.

However, as the human, economic and societal damage wrought by COVID-19 reverberates across a planet on which the leading nations can’t even agree on what to call the disease, Apple may delay both launches. Nativism is clearly making the world more fragile to global challenge.

Apple hasn’t fully committed to a delay; a report on Nikkei says only that it is “considering” the option.

What’s driving the question is executive concern about multiple challenges: logistics, component supply, market weakness, and consumer confidence.

In the background, we’ve heard the company is intensifying its work to manufacture components in multiple countries, breaking its reliance on China. Yet India, where some manufacturing was expected to begin in earnest this year, has also gone into lockdown as the central government attempts to mitigate the human and economic cost of the virus on its people. This has halted production there, creating yet more challenges for Apple’s Operations team.

Social isolation means consumer electronics sales are in free fall as the world’s stressed-out shoppers stay home.

Not only are most shops closed (including all of Apple’s own retail stores outside China), but given hundreds of millions of people have had to make income sacrifices, new smartphones aren’t particularly high on the “must-buy” list when people are more concerned about mortgage or rent payments, health and food.

Coronavirus has fractured the social and political landscape, probably forever. We’re seeing a shift in consciousness, and it hurts.

So, is the age of Apple over?

To answer that question, we’ll have to see what emerges from the disaster. We may end up with a planet on which people have a deeper understanding of the global interrelationships between everyone who lives here, or we may find ourselves stranded on isolated islands defined by arbitrary national borders.

The truth is we’ll probably have a bit of both, with some nations resolutely locking the gates and hiding behind nationalist doors – though doors offer no protection against flood, famine or disease.

In this patchwork of philosophies, Apple will need to dance delicately. It is, after all, a global company based on a multi-national supply chain.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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