Coronavirus pandemic continues to ‘hammer’ Apple’s supply chain

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Hammer hammering
This is kind of like a metaphor.
Photo: Unsplash/Moritz Mentges

Apple’s supply chain is still weathering the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, a report published late Thursday by Bloomberg makes clear.

Even though China has seemingly overcome the worst of the coronavirus spread, Apple products are continuing the suffer the impacts. That is likely to manifest itself in the form of delays for new products and fresh batches of existing ones.

Supply chain problems extend beyond China

According to the report, the batch of new products — including Apple’s new iPad Pro and two new Macs — soon to arrive with customers began manufacturing in early January. That was before the China-induced lockdown kicked into effect. As a result, it’s not necessarily an accurate gauge of Apple production capabilities.

Many manufacturers and assemblers suffered their worst month in February. Things began to return to normality in March, at least in terms of Apple’s manufacturers in China. On February 28, Tim Cook said that production issues would be a “temporary condition.”

The problem now seems to be less about China, and more about Apple’s production in other markets. For instance, Malaysia has suffered a “fresh round” of supplier factory closures. This two-week lockdown is affecting Apple suppliers such as Murata Manufacturing, Renesas Electronics, and Ibiden.

These companies aren’t as synonymous with Apple manufacturing as the likes of Foxconn. However, they make crucial chips and circuit boards for Apple. Having halted production temporarily, this could have a significant knock-on effect elsewhere in the supply chain.

Bloomberg claims that Apple suppliers and operations in other countries have also been “hammered by” the virus. This includes operations in the U.K., Italy, Germany, and South Korea.

While China remains the heartland of Apple’s manufacturing, this report is a reminder that this is very much an international operation. That means that the impact could last as long as coronavirus continues to make its presence felt.

What about the iPhone 5G?

One good bit of news in the report involves the iPhone 5G. Previous reports have suggested that this series of phones could be delayed as far back as November. Bloomberg doesn’t refute these, but notes that the next-gen iPhones are “still on schedule to launch in the fall, although that’s partly because mass production isn’t due to begin until May.”

It also notes that Apple was able to build a small number of completed test versions of the new iPhones in February.

Source: Bloomberg