Apple is reportedly suspending iPhone production in India up until April 14. The decision comes after PM Narender Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday evening. This essentially means that Foxconn and Wistron, manufacturers for iPhones in the country, are shutting down their production facilities to comply with orders.
While Foxconn has confirmed to suspend its operations until April 14, a representative from Wistron has also confirmed the shutdown without giving any broad details. Now since Foxconn or Wistron haven’t provided any information as to what all devices will be impacted, it is assumed only the older iPhone models will be affected which include the iPhone XR and iPhone SE among others.
The two manufacturers not only produce smartphones for Apple, but also for the number smartphone seller in the country, Xiaomi. As of now there hasn’t been any information from the company regarding the production shutdown. Various other smartphone makers are also said to be impacted due to the Coronavirus nationwide lockdown including the likes of the Vivo, Oppo and Realme.
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has also restricted smartphone companies to restrict their launches to online-only events. But the recent nationwide lockdown is definitely going to have a big impact on inventory and production.
For representation: A child being treated for coronavirus in China. (Reuters)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last week that the state had about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators but it might need 30,000 of them.
Last Updated: March 24, 2020, 1:44 PM IST
Chinese company Beijing Aeonmed has reportedly been working 24/7 since January 20 to make ventilators in a bid to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While it managed to meet the country’s needs two weeks ago, the factory continues to work non-stop on various orders from overseas. The company has employed three shifts with research and development staff also put on the production line.
As the death toll rises, one of the biggest requirements of doctors from Milan to New York is ventilators. A ventilator can help a Covid-19 patient breathe and determine if he lives or dies. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last week that the state had about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators but it might need 30,000 of them.
Business is at an all-time high as orders are rolling-in from dozens of countries, some of which are chartering planes or using military aircraft to pick up the machines. “There’s literally no country in the world that doesn’t want to buy a ventilator from China right now. We have tens of thousands of orders waiting. The issue is how fast we can make them,” said Li Kai, director of Beijing Aeonmed.
Aeonmed isn’t the only Chinese company pushing the boundaries to build ventilators. “All the ventilator factories in China have reached their maximum capacity, occupied fully by foreign demand,” said Wu Chuanpu, director of supply chain at Vedeng.com. Vedeng is one of the main platforms in China connecting medical equipment suppliers and buyers. Factories have orders to keep them at full capacity until May, adds Wu. Vedeng is getting over 60 to 70 new orders every day, each asking for hundreds or thousands of ventilators.
In COVID-19 times, love seems to be blossoming on online dating platforms and extra-marital dating app Gleeden has seen subscriptions increased by over 70 percent in India as more people stay home, the company said on Monday. Gleeden which has registered a longer time spent on the website globally said it expects subscriptions to rise further in India as most parts of the country are observing lockdown till March 31.
The extra-marital dating app Gleeden has seen longer threads in chats (2.5 times longer than usual), an increase in the upload of pictures in both public and especially private albums and in the number of members who are updating their profiles with a new description. Gleeden started its operations in India in 2017 and now claims to have over 8 lakh active Indian users.
In Italy, where mandatory quarantine started on March 4, the platform has seen a boom in subscriptions after the first week that has tripled in the past two weeks. “The traffic on the website has been increasing by 300 percent and the time spent on the website went from an average of 2 hours to a current average of 3 hours every day in Italy,” said Gleeden. More and more people are using Gleeden to meet strangers (online) or spending their time in order to know people in a better way than they were already talking to. In France and Spain, where the lockdown started a few days ago, the platform is witnessing a surge in subscriptions.
“Discreet platforms like Gleeden that put members’ privacy in the first place and guarantees privacy and secrecy is in high demand these days. This is because it’s easier and more discreet to connect from the phone, where members can activate the “discreet mode” where Gleeden’s interface looks like Facebook’s,” said the company. Gleeden is also witnessing an increase of sudden disconnections because members are taking advantage of the “Shake To Exit” function, which allows them to disconnect immediately and close the Gleeden app with just a quick shake of their device. “Very useful when the spouse sneaks up on you!” said the company.
Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has replied to US Senators who raised questions on his warehouse employees’ safety amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Four US Senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to Bezos last week, asking him how the company is keeping its warehouse staff safe as an Amazon warehouse worker was tested positive for COVID-19 at the company’s Queens, New York facility last week.
“There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now like yours,” Bezos said in a company blog post late Saturday. “Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world,” the Amazon CEO said. Several warehouse employees have told CNN Business they feel the company should be doing more to shield those at the core of its business who can’t do their jobs from home.
Bezos said the company is ensuring everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting the company’s practices in fulfilment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. “We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures,” he stressed. According to him, Amazon has changed its logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula and medical supplies. In a letter sent to Bezos on Friday, US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sanders and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. “Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk. This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical,” said Bezos.
Tech giant Amazon is warning third-party sellers on its marketplace to refrain from charging exorbitant pricing for face masks amid the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak that is spreading globally. Amazon has alerted merchants about face masks that are “not in compliance” with its pricing policies, according to an email provided by the tech major.
One consultant who works with Amazon sellers said that listings for overpriced face masks had been deleted from the site. The topic “coronavirus and price gouging” has also been hotly debated among the users on Amazon’s official selling forum over the past week, the Wired reported on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the US Federal health officials have issued a grim warning about a “bad” spread of coronavirus and asked the nation to prepare for drastic actions like cancelling meetings as the disease was spreading its tentacle far beyond China.
The coronavirus outbreak has already handed a blow to the tech industry. The Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona had to be cancelled after the disease spread. The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has increased to 2,663 with 77,658 confirmed cases, health authorities said on Tuesday. The National Health Commission said that it has received reports of 508 new cases and 71 deaths on Monday from 31 provincial-level regions of mainland China.
People wearing masks are seen at a subway station in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)
The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain.
Last Updated: February 18, 2020, 4:35 PM IST
IApple Inc’s surprise warning that it will likely fall short of this quarter’s sales target due to the coronavirus epidemic points to much pain for its chip and other suppliers as well as for rivals who also rely on China to build their products. Revising guidance set just three weeks ago, the world’s most valuable tech company said while many factories that make iPhones have reopened for work, they were ramping up more slowly than anticipated. The outbreak, which has infected more than 72,000 and prevented many employees from returning to work due to travel and quarantine restrictions, was reverberating throughout the U.S. firm’s supply chain, a source familiar with Apple’s operations in China said.
“If one component factory stays closed and they’re the only supplier, then everyone has to stop and wait. And if there are two suppliers and one is shut down, then we need the other to do more,” said the source who was not authorized to speak to media and declined to be identified. Stacy Rasgon, a Bernstein analyst, said Apple’s woes probably also mean fewer chips will be sold throughout the mobile device industry because the overwhelming majority are made in China. “Maybe this is the wake up call. I would be astonished if Apple is the only one,” he said. “Every electronic supply chain runs through China in a big way.”Research firm Canalys estimates both Apple, which outsources much of its manufacturing to Taiwan’s Foxconn, and rival Huawei Technologies have 99% of their production in China. The world’s No. 1 smartphone market is likely see sales halve in the first quarter due to the virus, analysts have said.
Chinese rivals Oppo, Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) and Vivo have 83%, 72%, and 65% of their production in China respectively. Reuters reported last week that roughly 10% of Foxconn’s workers in China have resumed production, while other plants in the country remain largely shuttered. Foxconn denied the reports in a company filing without elaborating.
Shares of Apple’s chip suppliers fell on the news on Tuesday, with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) losing 2.8%, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) (2330.TW) down 2.9% and SK Hynix (000660.KS) shedding 2.9%.
Analysts at ANZ noted Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) was vulnerable to disruptions caused by the epidemic as it supplies mobile modem chips to almost all major smartphone makers and generates nearly half of its sales from China. U.S.-based suppliers that do a lot of business with Apple include Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O), Qorvo Inc (QRVO.O) and Skyworks Solutions Inc (SWKS.O).
Broadcom makes a range of wireless components for iPhones and said last month it had signed a deal to supply Apple for contracts worth as much as $15 billion. Sales to Apple accounted for 20% of its annual revenue in fiscal 2019.
Qorvo, which sells parts that help phones connect to wireless data networks, generated around one third of its revenue from Apple in fiscal 2019. Skyworks, another wireless component supplier, got more than 10% of its annual revenue from Apple.
Other U.S. suppliers to Apple include Texas Instruments Inc (TXN.O). Its battery charging chips have been found in iPhone teardowns, although the company sells across a broad spectrum of the electronics industry.
In Europe, the Netherlands’ NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) supplies Apple with the near-field communications chips used in the iPhone’s Apple Pay contactless payments feature, according to TechInsights teardowns and industry analysts. Chips made by Franco-Italian firm STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) (STM.PA) are used for wireless battery charging and for infrared cameras in iPhones, according to teardowns. Its shares lost 3.5% in morning trade. Investors in chipmakers have until now have been willing to look past temporary coronavirus disruptions, hoping for a sales recovery in the second half, said Bernstein’s Rasgon Mike Fawkes, who previously ran supply chain operations for Hewlett-Packard, said even if it wanted to, Apple was unlikely to find alternative production sources soon. “They’re stuck with China for some period of time,” he said. “It’s very hard when you’re managing a big battleship like they are.”
Illustrative image of Plague Inc, a strategy simulation game that lets players infect the world . (Photo: Reuters)
The prospect of being stuck in quarantine is leading to games and video streaming apps being one of the very few to benefit from Coronavirus, as per Reuters.
Last Updated: February 4, 2020, 4:07 PM IST
Online games and short video apps have been among the few beneficiaries of China’s virus outbreak, raking in millions of views and downloads as people stuck in self-quarantine at home seek entertainment and ways to beguile their time. The shift has even drawn companies more used to doing business in showrooms, such as carmakers Tesla and Mercedes-Benz, to promote products heavily online during the week.
Chinese travel and gather with family and friends during the traditional Lunar New Year holiday, but many postponed or cancelled their plans over concerns sparked in mid-January about the spread of a new virus that has killed 420. “I only use my mobile phone for three hours a day at work, but at least eight hours every day during the Spring Festival, because it’s so boring,” Lu Zhang, a junior high school teacher in eastern Shandong province, said of the enforced holiday.
Investors have seized on the trend, with shares of Chinese game publishers, such as Tencent, rising 2% in Hong Kong on Tuesday, outstripping a rise of 1% in the benchmark, while in New York, NetEase rose nearly 3%. U.S.-listed shares in Chinese video platform Bilibili rose almost 7%, while shares of search engine Baidu and e-commerce giant Alibaba also rose. Five mobile game developers, including Ourpalm, surged by the maximum allowed 10% on Tuesday.
Weekly downloads jumped 77% on ByteDance’s Xigua video app from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, after it announced plans to stream the premiere of a movie, “Lost in Russia” for free, data from performance tracker App Annie showed. “My screen time yesterday exceeded 10 hours,” one Shanghai resident, identified only as Wang, said in a social media post, adding, “What do you all suggest I do other than look at my cellphone?” Also popular are health and fitness apps, such as Keep, which livestreams fitness classes. Its revenue surged 15% for the week, while healthcare app Pingan Good Doctor saw downloads jump 1,186%.
“We believe that China internet and logistics companies are somewhat sheltered,” from the impact of the virus outbreak, analysts from Bernstein Research wrote in a Monday note, amid a growing trend for all products and services to move online. Tencent’s blockbuster mobile game, “Honour of Kings” made up to 2 billion yuan ($286 million) on the Jan. 24 eve of the holiday, estimated Pei Pei, an analyst with Sinolink Securities Co, exceeding all the Chinese mobile games on Apple’s app store during the entire week-long break in 2018. Tencent declined to comment.
Strategy simulation app “Plague Inc.”, which jumped to the top of the charts in Apple’s app store, retained its popularity. The game, which allows users to create and evolve a pathogen to destroy the world, generated 78,000 downloads in January, up from 16,000 in December, according to Sensor Tower. “Many students play games during the Spring Festival,” said the junior high teacher, Lu, adding that she spent more than five hours each day playing poker, among other games. “Sometimes they invite me to join when they see me online.” U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc, which started delivery in December of cars built at its $2-billion Shanghai plant, stepped up daily livestreamed sales events on video app Douyin to highlight features of its vehicles.
Several sales dealers for Mercedes Benz also took to the WeChat app with a link to a 360-degree interior view of its GLB compact SUV, simulating the passenger experience and offering close-ups of the seats’ leather stitching details and dashboard. “Not leaving home, so use virtual reality to look at cars!” one of the representatives exhorted viewers.