COVID-19 Coronavirus: Impact on Apple's iPhone, Mac and WWDC


The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has been spreading around the world since January, and so far, it has had a major impact on Apple's device production and device sales in affected countries like China, Italy, South Korea, the United States, and almost every other country.

Apple Covid 1
As the virus has continued to move through the United States and other countries, has led to some production and supply problems, and has caused WWDC to be held as a digital-only event for the first time. This guide covers everything that we know about COVID-19's impact on Apple.

Coronavirus Explained

SARS-CoV-2 is a virus in the coronavirus family that surfaced in Wuhan, China in December of 2019, and the illness that it causes is COVID-19. It is believed that the virus originated at a seafood market where exotic animal meats were sold, though Chinese scientists have suggested that it may have originated elsewhere and then spread in the market.

Genetically, SARS-CoV-2 has been found to have a similarity to coronaviruses in bats, which is the animal it may have originated from, though researchers believe a secondary animal such as a pangolin was involved in the transmission.

SARS-CoV-2 is known as a coronavirus because of its shape, which is circular with protruding club-shaped spike peplomars that look similar to the corona aura that surrounds the sun and other stars.

Coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections, and while many coronaviruses in humans cause mild problems similar to a cold, rarer versions are more dangerous. Other examples of coronaviruses that have raised alarms in the past include SARS and MERS, both of which were deadlier than SARS-CoV-2, but not as widespread. Symptoms include fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.

Regardless of where SARS-CoV-2 came from, the virus has infected over 95,000 people and killed more than 3,000, primarily in China. It has spread to over 50 locations around the world, including the United States, and in the U.S. specifically, there have been cases of community transmission, where medical professionals are unsure of how the virus was contracted.

Many younger people who contract COVID-19 have recovered, but because this is a new virus, there are still many unknowns, and older people who are more prone to respiratory issues have not fared as well. There are also unknowns about the extent of the transmissibility of the virus, which has led to events worldwide being canceled as it spreads.

For those who want more information on the COVID-19 outbreak, the CDC's website is a good source, as is the World Health Organization.

Coronavirus Impact on Apple's Device Sales

When news of COVID-19 spread in late January and infection numbers began to rise, Apple shut down all retail stores, corporate offices, and contact centers in China for two or more weeks.

apple store kunming china
Many of the stores started reopening in late February, but there are still some store locations that remained closed into March, while other stores that reopened in February are operating on reduced hours. As of March 13, all stores in China had reopened.

Closing stores, operating on reduced hours, government-imposed travel bans and quarantines, and the public's fear over contracting coronavirus in public spaces led to less foot traffic in stores in China, which has significantly impacted Apple's sales in the country.

After closing stores in China, Apple elected to close all other retail stores in the United States and other countries on March 14, which has also had an impact on sales.

Apple started reopening stores with its sole location in South Korea, which reopened on April 18 on limited operating hours, and began opening up additional store locations in May. More than 300 Apple Stores worldwide have reopened with safety measures that include mandatory masks, limits on the number of people in the store, social distancing, fever checks, and more, but some stores began reclosing in the United States and other countries in June amid COVID-19 spikes.

Many retail locations that remain open are primarily open for repairs and online order pickups with Apple limiting in-store access in many locations.

Coronavirus Impact on Apple's Device Production

Many of Apple's suppliers in China were forced to shut down production for several weeks in early February, with the factory closures coming right after the Lunar New Year holiday. Main iPhone suppliers that include Foxconn and Pegatron were closed for quite some time because an outbreak of COVID-19 at a supplier campus where workers live in close quarters would be devastating.

Apple's factories were up and running by mid to late February for the most part, but travel restrictions from heavily impacted areas in China, mandatory quarantines, and low labor return rates led to delays with factories ramping up to full production. Outbreaks in new countries like South Korea also led to some factory closures.

Supplier issues caused some Apple products to have long ship times, such as build-to-order versions of the iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and MacBook Pro, but as of May, Apple's suppliers are back up and running.

Analysts have lowered their estimated device shipments for the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus, and the overall impact of the coronavirus throughout the rest of 2020 remains to be seen.

Apple implemented travel restrictions for its employees, and employees have not been able to travel to China to begin the preparation process that takes place ahead of when new flagship iPhones are manufactured. In February, Apple employees typically travel to China to perfect their manufacturing processes with partners like Foxconn, and delays ate into the time that Apple needs to finalize orders for chips and other ‌iPhone‌ components.

At this time, it's unclear if the COVID-19 outbreak is going to impact the launch of the iPhone 12, but most rumors indicate that Apple still plans to launch the new iPhones during the fall months. A recent report from Japanese site Nikkei says that Apple is considering pushing back the launch of its 2020 iPhones by several months, but a separate report from Bloomberg says that the ‌iPhone 12‌ models are still on course for a fall launch, though the launches of the new devices could be staggered. Apple in 2018 released the iPhone XR later than the XS and XS Max, and we could see a similar situation in 2020.

Most rumors now suggest that Apple's iPhones will be delayed by about a month, so we could see launches in October or November instead of September.

Apple's Response to Coronavirus

Apple in January announced plans to donate to money to groups dedicated to fighting the COVID-19 outbreak in China, and later, Apple CEO Tim Cook said it would more than double the company's donation.

As mentioned before, Apple temporarily closed all corporate offices and retail stores in China in response to the virus. Corporate offices are now reopened, and stores are in the process of reopening. In the United States, Apple asked all of its corporate employees to work from home where possible, and it is providing unlimited sick leave to any employee infected with the coronavirus. Retail stores were closed for approximately two months, and as of June, Apple has begun allowing corporate employees to start to return to their offices.

According to Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌, Apple's chief concern is the health and safety of its employees, supply chain partners, customers, and communities in which it operates, with Apple prioritizing people over revenue.

Apple has worked with its suppliers to source more than 20 million N95 masks that have been distributed to healthcare workers in the United States, and millions more have been donated in Europe. Apple has also been manufacturing face shields for medical communities, and has donated millions of dollars to various charities.

March Revenue Cuts

Apple in mid-February announced that its financial guidance for the March quarter would fall short due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the January earnings call, Apple said it expected to see revenue of $63 to $67 billion in the March quarter, but that wasn't a goal the company was able to meet. Apple ended up reporting revenue of $58.3 billion during the quarter.

Apple cited lower customer demand in China and constrained ‌iPhone‌ supplies worldwide as the factors leading to lower than expected revenue numbers.

Coronavirus and WWDC

Amid the public health crisis, many companies canceled or postponed major events that would see people gathering in large numbers Apple elected to hold its WWDC 2020 event in a digital-only capacity for the first time with no physical gathering. The online-only event took place in June, kicking off on June 22.

The online WWDC event was "packed with content" for consumers, press, and developers alike, with developers provided with early access to new software and the opportunity to engage with Apple engineers. WWDC was be free in 2020, so developers did not need to pay the $1,599 ticket price to attend virtually.

With no event happening in San Jose, Apple pledged to donate $1 million to local San Jose organizations to offset the associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020's online format.

Exposure Notification APIs Developed With Google

Apple and Google worked together on an exposure notification API, which is designed to allow apps from public health authorities worldwide to figure out if they've been exposed to COVID-19, and if so, what steps to take next to minimize the spread of the virus.

Exposure Notifications W People and Text
Google and Apple developed the backbone for the system, which relies on device-to-device Bluetooth communication to monitor who you've come into contact with, letting you know if that person later contracts COVID-19. Exposure Notification was added as an API in the iOS 13.5 release.

The underlying API will be used by official health apps and privacy is built in. It collects no geolocation information and data is kept on device unless consent is provided for it to be shared upon infection. Full details on the API can be found in our extensive Exposure Notification Guide.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about COVID-19's impact on Apple, know of something we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Related Articles

regent street apple

iPhone Upgrade Program Resumes in England

Wednesday December 2, 2020 6:49 am PST by
As England's second national lockdown comes to an end today, after four weeks of waiting, many customers enrolled in Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program are finally able to go in-store to complete their upgrade. England entered a second national lockdown on Thursday, November 5, meaning that Apple stores in England were forced to close, with some converting to a click-and-collect service only. ...
apple world aids day 2020 hero 12012020 big

Apple Expands Partnership With (RED) to Combat HIV/AIDS and COVID-19

Tuesday December 1, 2020 2:08 am PST by
This World Aids Day, Apple has announced an expanded partnership with (RED) to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa while simultaneously protecting those communities from COVID-19. Apple says it will direct 100 percent of eligible proceeds from (PRODUCT)RED purchases to the Global Fund's COVID-19 Response to help provide services and treatment to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. In...
apple ppe zambia donations

Apple Highlights PPE Donations to Zambia in Fight Against COVID-19 and HIV

Tuesday December 1, 2020 1:42 am PST by
Apple has published a feature highlighting its PPE donations to Zambia and how it has been redirecting PRODUCT(RED) proceeds to help the Global Fund's efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and HIV in sub-saharan Africa. This year, COVID-19 drastically changed the landscape of healthcare, and the Global Fund, which coordinates these shipments to help fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, had...
coventgarden gallery image2 2x

Second Lockdown to Close All Apple Stores in England for At Least Four Weeks

Monday November 2, 2020 3:51 am PST by
England will enter a new lockdown from Thursday, November 5 to curb a steep rise in coronavirus cases, the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. The lockdown will last for at least four weeks, closing all non-essential shops, including all Apple stores in the country, just over one week before Apple launches the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max on Friday, November 13. In his...

Video Offers Closer Look at Apple Face Mask

Friday September 25, 2020 6:25 am PDT by
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy has today shared a new video giving a closer look at Apple's reusable face masks for corporate and retail employees. Apple's own face mask was designed by the company's Engineering and Industrial Design teams amid the global health crisis for corporate and retail employees, and the boxes include Apple's famous "Designed by Apple in California" text. The...
4express pickup apple burlingame

Apple Trials Express Retail Store Format for Genius Bar Appointments and Online Order Pickups

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:52 am PDT by
Apple is trying out a new retail store experience that puts express pickup of online orders and Genius Bar appointments front and center, while keeping customer and staff safety paramount during the ongoing global health crisis. Images credited to PopVox co-founder and CEO Marci Harris via Twitter Dubbed "Apple Express," the temporary retail format for brick-and-mortar stores is being trialed ...
nhs logo

England and Wales' Contact-Tracing App With Apple and Google API to Launch September 24

Friday September 11, 2020 7:56 am PDT by
An NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing app using the Apple and Google API is finally set to launch in England and Wales on September 24, the UK government has announced today (via BBC News). The app performs distance-based contact-tracing like similar apps released in other countries. It will also allow users to scan QR codes to register visits to hospitality venues to aid contact-tracing. UK...
nhs test protect scotland

Scotland Launches Contact Tracing App With Apple and Google API

Thursday September 10, 2020 3:04 am PDT by
Scotland is the latest country to implement Apple's and Google's Exposure Notification API in their COVID-19 contact tracing app, now available on the App Store. The Protect Scotland app was developed by NHS Scotland and is based on the exposure notification technology that was jointly developed by Google and Apple. Some other countries that have implemented or are committed to implementing...
Exposure Notifications W People and Text

North Dakota, Wyoming and Alabama Launching Exposure Notification Apps Soon

Thursday August 13, 2020 4:50 pm PDT by
North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alabama are all launching contact tracing apps that take advantage of Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus, reports Reuters. North Dakota's app, Care19 Alert, is launching today, while Wyoming plans to launch an app on Friday. Alabama's app, which has been in testing with university students and staff, will...
nyc mta subway mask

New York City's MTA Urges Apple to Further Protect Riders During Pandemic

Monday August 10, 2020 9:43 am PDT by
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, New York City's transit agency MTA has encouraged Apple to accelerate the deployment of technology-based solutions to further protect users amid the global health crisis. MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said riders have been seen removing their masks to unlock their iPhones using Face ID, despite a recent software update by Apple that makes it easier...
virginia covid app

Virginia Releases COVID-19 Exposure App Based on Apple and Google API

Wednesday August 5, 2020 8:39 am PDT by
Virginia this week became the first U.S. state to release a COVID-19 exposure notification app using Apple's and Google's jointly developed API, as noted by Kyle Carmitchel on Twitter. The app is available now on the App Store. The COVIDWISE app allows you to be notified if someone you have been near later tests positive for COVID-19, so long as that other person confirms their positive test ...
apple card feature2

Apple Card Deferred Payment Program Extended Through August

Saturday August 1, 2020 2:21 pm PDT by
Apple has again extended its Apple Card COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program by a month, which will allow cardholders who apply for aid to defer their August payments without incurring interest charges. Enrolling in the program can be done by opening up the Wallet app on the iPhone or iPad, tapping on Apple Card, tapping on the black circle with three dots, tapping on the message bubble, and ...

Canada's 'COVID Alert' App Using Apple's Exposure Notification API Now Available

Friday July 31, 2020 10:36 am PDT by
Canada today released a new COVID-19 contact tracing app called COVID Alert, as noted by iPhone in Canada. COVID Alert takes advantage of Apple and Google's privacy-focused Exposure Notification API to alert people when they've come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus. As with all COVID-19 contact tracing apps, COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random, anonymized codes...
apple highcross uk store

Apple Highcross in Leicester Reopens Wednesday, First Time Since March All UK Stores Will Be Open

Tuesday July 28, 2020 8:06 am PDT by
Apple Highcross in the British city of Leicester is set to reopen on Wednesday, which will mark the first time every Apple retail store in the United Kingdom has been open since the country's lockdown began in March in response to the global health crisis. Michael Steeber on Twitter noted the change on Apple's Highcross store web page, which indicates the retail location will open on July 29 ...

Apple Maps Alerts International Travelers of Self-Isolation Guidance

Friday July 24, 2020 4:30 am PDT by
Apple Maps appears to have started alerting users of self-isolation guidance for international travelers if they've recently been at an airport. Kyle Seth Gray shared on Twitter an alert he received on his iPhone after being at an airport, suggesting the notifications are targeted geo-location based alerts, rather than being linked to any personal details about international travel. Apple ...
wsj apple store

Inside Apple's Coronavirus Store Closure Strategies

Thursday July 23, 2020 9:25 am PDT by
With Apple gradually reclosing many of its U.S. stores as coronavirus cases increase, The Wall Street Journal has taken a look at Apple's strategies and criteria for deciding when and where to close stores, viewing the company as a retail bellwether. As noted by analyst Gene Munster in the video, Apple's massive cash reserves and its heavy online presence mean that the company can be more...

Linux Foundation Launches COVID-19 Project to Help Health Authorities Make Apps With Apple's API

Monday July 20, 2020 5:40 pm PDT by
The Linux Foundation today announced the launch of a new Linux Foundation Public Health Initiative (LFPH) (via TechRepublic) that uses open source technologies including Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API to help public health authorities combat COVID-19. The LFPH includes Cisco,, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent, and VMWare, and is launching with two exposure notification...
towson maryland

Apple Recloses Eight Stores in Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Wednesday July 15, 2020 4:59 am PDT by
Apple is re-closing eight more retail stores across the United States, in the states of Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Apple Towson Town, Maryland According to Michael Steeber on Twitter, the following stores will be closed from today: Leawood (Leawood) – Kansas Towson Town Center (Towson) - Maryland Country Club Plaza (Kansas City) - Missouri MacArthur Center (Norfolk)...
apple store fashion island

Apple Recloses 11 Stores in Southern California, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee

Friday July 10, 2020 5:05 am PDT by
Apple is reclosing 11 additional retail stores in the U.S. because of local increases in coronavirus infections. As reported by 9to5Mac, the stores are located in California, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee, and add to the two stores that temporarily closed earlier this week, bringing the total Apple retail store reclosures in the country to 91. The stores in California include Brea Mall...
chadstone australia

Apple Stores in Victoria, Australia to Reclose Following Return of Lockdown

Wednesday July 8, 2020 3:46 am PDT by
Four Apple stores in Victoria, Australia are set to reclose for up to six weeks from July 9, following a spike in coronavirus infections in the state. As reported by 9to5Mac, Apple Highpoint in Melbourne was the first store to reclose on July 2 as the deteriorating health situation prompted a reintroduction of stage three lockdown measures across the state capital. Apple's other retail...