Apple decided to postpone a March product launch event after continuing delays in the production of an expected successor to the iPhone SE, a source at Apple confirmed to Cult of Mac.
A number of other problems played into the decision to delay the event that was being planned, including the worsening impact of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus in California and elsewhere.
The source said Apple grew “concerned” about bringing together some 1,000 people for the event, originally planned for late March at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
Apple executives reportedly had voiced some concern, according to the source, about being unable to ensure ‘social distancing’ at a public event in a confined building with people sitting next to each other.
Apple never sent out invitations to the long-rumored event.
The decision comes in the wake of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department issuing an order Monday to ban mass gatherings of 1,000 people or more between March 11 and April 1.
A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department was not immediately available for comment regarding its discussions with Apple and the planning of events.
COVID-19 spreads in California
At present, there are 43 known cases of COVID-19 infection in Santa Clara County, with one death. Statewide, California currently reports 133 confirmed cases and two deaths. There are at least 900 cases in the United States, with at least 30 deaths.
Worldwide, the tally currently sits at more than 117,300 confirmed cases, with more than 4,200 deaths. The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, in late December of last year. It continues to spread around the world, with major outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran.
Multiple reasons for Apple’s March product event delay
The source within Apple was told the Santa Clara County order was a “major factor” in the company’s decision not to hold the March product event. In addition, “delays in producing two of the primary products,” and not having those new devices ready to sell worldwide soon after the event were part of “multiple circumstances” leading to the postponement. The source would not elaborate further on the details of those two products.
“Why have an event when the products aren’t ready?” the source said. “It’s a pretty simple decision.”
Rescheduling on a constantly evolving timeline
The source said that until Apple can better evaluate the production schedule of components and final product assembly, it will be tough to determine availability and firm up announcement plans.
According to the source, Apple put together a new preliminary schedule for all the elements involved with releasing the new products. However, it’s not at all “written in stone” and could change from “one day to the next,” the source said.
Various other reports over the past few days also confirmed the postponement. Tech writer John Prosser tweeted similar details Sunday. So did Forbes senior technology contributor David Phelan, who reported another source with the same confirmation.
What to expect
Prior to the postponement, reports indicated Apple would launch multiple products at the now-delayed event. A 4.7-inch iPhone — a successor to the iPhone SE — is rumored by some, including reliable TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, to debut this spring. Priced at around $399, the rumored device is referred to as either the “iPhone SE 2” or “iPhone 9.” Recent reports indicate it will use the same design as iPhone 8, but with a faster A13 Bionic processor and more RAM.
While the low-cost iPhone was set to be the star of the show, Apple reportedly has loads of new gear in its product pipeline.
“We forecast that Apple’s major new hardware products in [the first half of 2020] include the 4.7-inch LCD iPhone, iPad Pro, MacBook Pro/Air, smaller wireless charging mat, UWB tag, and a high-end Bluetooth headphone,” Kuo wrote in a research report obtained by Cult of Mac in late January.
The COVID-19 virus’s heavy impact on the Apple supply chain in China means continuing uncertainty about when these products will launch.