Could a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in China delay the launch of the iPhone 14 – and lead to a shortage of the new iPhone SE?
That's the worst case scenario as a strict lockdown in Jilin province has forced a number of Chinese firms – including Apple supplier Foxconn – to shut down, raising concerns of yet more disruption to the global supply chain.
"The operation of Foxconn in Shenzhen China has been suspended from March 14 onwards in compliance with the local government’s new COVID-19 policy," the company told CNBC. "The date of factory resumption is to be advised by the local government."
Shenzhen is China's answer to Silicon Valley, so any closures could lead to some of the biggest names in the tech industry – including Apple and Huawei – missing their production targets for 2022.
"If the lockdown was extended... this could mean delays for the launch of the new iPhone later in the year, or severely reduced output" said Laurence Dellicott, Director of Supplier Management & Supply Chain Services at MySupply by Avnet Silica.
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Analysts at Bank of America have told investors that "almost 50% of the cell phone production" is done at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant, said to be the world's largest iPhone factory. And as yet, this is unaffected by the lockdown.
Indeed, Foxconn told the BBC it had already "adjusted the production line to minimise the potential impact" of any extended lockdown in Shenzhen. In other words, Apple has ramped up production at Zhengzhou to recoup some of the Shenzhen losses. That's the theory, at least.
The iPhone 14 is not expected to be unveiled until September, but a recent report suggests that the first units have already begun to roll off the production line (via 9to5Mac). The two higher-end models are tipped for Apple's forthcoming A16 processor and a notchless design.
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