Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

New Apple iPhone could be delayed by 'months' due to coronavirus

Consumers may be facing weeks of delays for both existing and upcoming models as Apple’s supply chain is weakened by the outbreak.

The coronavirus could make remote work the norm, what businesses need to know
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Apple has warned retail staff and retailers to expect iPhone supply issues, including for replacement devices, due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Analysts believe that shortages may also cause problems with the upcoming 2020 iPhone. 

The iPad and iPhone maker reportedly said last week that the spread of the illness could result in shortages of replacement devices for between two and four weeks. 

In an internal memo seen by Bloomberg, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant warned technical support staff that consumers with heavily damaged iPhones that required full replacements could be in for a wait. 

See also: Facebook suspends face mask ads to stop traders exploiting coronavirus fears

If a damaged device is brought into a store, severe damage may result in full replacement, or individual parts -- including screens -- might be changed over instead. At the time Apple issued its warning, the publication says that some stores were also noticing a shortage of individual parts.  

The New York Post reports that some carriers are now stockpiling iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, leading to shortages in-store. At one store, the iPhone 11 Pro has been out of stock for weeks, and in others, there has been little in terms of guidance when it comes to new shipments. 

It is possible that stock is being deliberately left at warehouses, the report suggests, as "a tactic that carriers might be using to control the supply chain in case of a shortage."

Apple previously warned investors that "worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained" due to the coronavirus outbreak, and shortages are expected to "temporarily affect revenues worldwide." Furthermore, research agency Gartner expects worldwide shipping forecasts for smartphones, tablets, and PCs across the first half of 2020 to be reduced. 

CNET: Coronavirus and COVID-19: Everything you need to know

Bank of America analyst notes obtained by Bloomberg suggest the fall release of what is expected to be the iPhone 12 could be delayed by up to a month, with an analyst predicting this could be as much as a few months due to "both supply issues as well as the weaker demand environment from COVID-19."

TechRepublic: Coronavirus: What business pros need to know

Known as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, the respiratory illness has spread internationally with cases recorded in 115 countries. At the time of writing, there are close to 115,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 4,000 fatalities. 

Over 80,000 of these cases are in China, and as Italy is now dealing with close to 10,000 confirmed diagnoses, the country has chosen to implement a nationwide lockdown with citizens being urged to stay home and public gatherings banned. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook has deemed COVID-19 as a "challenging moment" in the firm's history. Separately, Apple has also begun asking staff to consider working from home. Remote working options have been expanded when the "job allows" across the US, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK.  

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