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Coronavirus threatens the next generation of smartphones

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Every Autumn, Mazen Kourouche heads to the biggest Apple Store in Sydney, Australia, and queues up for hours to be one of the first people in the world to get his hands on the latest iPhone.

According to Mr Kourouche, who develops software for the iPhone operating system (iOS), many people would usually travel from overseas to get their hands on the iPhone in Australia. The nation’s time zone means its Apple stores are the first to open around the world on launch day.

This year could be different though. Like most other retailers, Apple has closed its shops around the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Sources have told the Japanese publication Nikkei that Apple is weighing up whether to delay that launch. The same may be true for devices manufactured by Samsung and other rivals that use the Android operating system.

“Approximately 70% of smartphones are manufactured in China – so as the pandemic hit China, there has been significant disruption to the supply of existing devices,”

Many smartphone makers rely on components that are made in China and South Korea, two nations that have been hardest hit by the outbreak.

Demand has fallen dramatically. Shipments of smartphones in China tumbled by 40% in the first quarter of 2020.

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