Apple could delay the launch of its 5G-ready iPhone by months due to concerns about how the coronavirus could impact consumer demand for new smartphones.
A report by the Nikkei Asian Review cited sources claiming that Apple is ready to push back the official release pending an internal review, which will lead to a final decision sometime in May.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has already caused major disruption to Apple’s product development roadmap, but the company is concerned that consumer demands and habits may shift in the aftermath.
“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones,” the source told Nikkei this week.
The source added that Apple wants its first 5G iPhone “to be a hit” and is ready to delay its launch to a time when the economy and smartphone market may be in a bit better shape.
Apple is already late to the next-gen mobile party as both Samsung and Huawei have already released handsets that support ultrafast 5G speeds.
It was in a bullish mood in January after instructing mobile suppliers to be ready to support the production of as many as 100m units of the 5G iPhone.
Apple was set to reveal the details of its new smartphone later this year with a September or October release date, but the coronavirus now looks likely to delay those plans.
The Cupertino-based company is currently keeping track of the outbreak in regions around the world.
Apple Stores recently opened again in China, the epicentre of the virus, after a lengthy shutdown period, but they remain closed in countries across Europe and the US.
A second source said that Apple will make a final decision during the next two months and noted that its release could be postponed until next year in a “worst-case scenario”.
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