KEY POINTS

  • Sources claim that coronavirus has left Apple in a " tough spot"
  • This is due to the fact that the virus has forced the company to restrict travels to China
  • The travel restrictions affected the creation and finalization of the upcoming iPhone lineup

Apple has been struggling to continue its business in China due to the recent coronavirus outbreak in the Asian country. The virus has caused so many problems for the company and left it in a difficult situation, a report claims.

Sources speaking with Reuters said Apple is having trouble producing its upcoming line of flagship iPhones due to the spread of COVID-19. This is because the outbreak happened at a time when Cupertino's engineers are scheduled to fly into China to “perfect the production of this fall's new iPhones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook previously said that the company was forced to restrict travel to China, and has limited such to “business critical travel.” While the travel restriction helped to ensure the safety of Cupertino's employees, it has delayed the production of the iPhone 12 series.

Reuter's sources said that while high-volume or mass iPhone production is usually scheduled in the summer, crucial steps in iPhone creation such as the finalization of assembly processes are usually done in the first months of the year.

Crucial stages

The transition from working on prototype iPhone models to the assembly of millions of units normally starts in late January or early February, which is when the Lunar New Year ends on China, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Apple, by this time, should've been able to try several different prototypes already and are in the late stages of what is called “engineering validation.”

At this stage, Apple's manufacturing partner, Foxconn, should be able to assemble a small number of devices that will be reviewed by both firms. These units will be used to see if the device is ready for mass production, or still needs more time to be perfected.

Any delays in the prototyping and engineering validation process will result in more delays, as Apple will need to finalise its orders for components that will be used in the upcoming devices.

A tough spot

As it is, COVID-19, which has forced Apple to prohibit its engineers from meeting with suppliers and assemblers face to face, has left the company “in a tough spot.” The prototype is delayed, and the subsequent processes are also delayed as well.

“And the word is, that’s probably not going to change for another month at best,” a semiconductor firm executive told Reuters. "You’re really talking about two lost months, which in the consumer electronics cycle is huge.”

Foxconn Foxconn employees assemble phones in Shenzhen, China. Photo: AP Photo/Kin Cheung