Reuters: Coronavirus shutdowns may have ‘big’ impact on Foxconn iPhone production

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A major manufacturer of Apple products could halt production for another week if the new coronavirus outbreak grows. One source warns that the epidemic could have a “big” impact on the tech giant’s product availability, according to a published report Monday.

Reuters cites sources at Taiwan-based Foxconn who say “almost all” production of the iPhone in China has ceased until at least February 10 and could extended even further.

“What we are worried about is delays for another week or even another month. The impact would be big,” the source said. “It definitely will have an impact on the Apple production line. The tricky question is whether we will be able to resume production [on Feb. 10]…It’s up to the instructions given by central and provincial governments.”

Foxconn monitoring situation

Reuters reported that Foxconn has asked employees and clients in China’s Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, to stay home but report their health condition to managers on a daily basis. The company reportedly said in a memo to employees that those who follow the rules will be paid as usual, but those who fail to do so will be “severely” punished, although it did not elaborate.

A telephone hotline was set up to allow employees to report fellow workers who broke the rules. If a report is confirmed, Foxconn said it would pay that person $29.

Impact on Apple as yet unknown

As to whether a further manufacturing delay would severely impact Apple is yet to be seen. Foxconn has factories in Eastern China’s Suzhou region, Shanghai, Dongguan and Guangdong, but could possibly transfer manufacturing of Apple products to other countries where it operates, including Vietnam, India and Mexico.

The source told Reuters that Foxconn could make up for further delays if factories work overtime once they re-open.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts last week that the company was working on finding “alternate sources” for components, but did not specifically address its backup plans for product manufacturing. As for the impact on a suspected low-cost iPhone to be released in March, it is unknown what further manufacturing delays could have on that product or availability of consumers to buy it.

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the report to Cult of Mac.