Apple will close all its offices, 42 retail stores and contact centers across the Chinese mainland through February 9 as the outbreak of the new coronavirus has sickened more than 14,500 and killed more than 300 people.
Apple is bracing itself against a growing coronavirus outbreak, restricting business travel to China and closing one Apple Store as health officials try to contain the deadly virus.
Apple is also trying to gauge the potential disruption to production. Most of the world’s iPhones, as well as other devices, are assembled in China with components coming from a network of nearly 400 suppliers.
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with China’s chief market regulator Thursday, a trip likely to attract the tech giant more criticism as tensions fester between the mainland and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Cook’s meeting in Beijing comes one week after it removed a live map app from the App Store that was being used by protestors. Cook said the app, HKmap.live, was pulled after Hong Kong officials presented “credible information” the app was used to target individuals and property with violence where no police were present.
The drop in iPhone sales among Chinese consumers that hurt Apple so much last year is now a thing of the past, according to market analysts. The company saw five straight months of growth in that important region.
Rising trade tensions have brought calls in China to boycott Apple devices in favor of Huawei handsets, but the iPhone has an unlikely cheerleader: the CEO of Huawei admits he buys iPhones for his family.
“One can’t narrowly think love for Huawei should mean loving Huawei phones,” said CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei.