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

by

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.


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.


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.


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

North Dakota, Wyoming and Alabama Launching Exposure Notification Apps Soon

Thursday August 13, 2020 3:50 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...

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

Monday August 10, 2020 8:43 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 Releases COVID-19 Exposure App Based on Apple and Google API

Wednesday August 5, 2020 7:39 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 Deferred Payment Program Extended Through August

Saturday August 1, 2020 1:21 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 9:36 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 in Leicester Reopens Wednesday, First Time Since March All UK Stores Will Be Open

Tuesday July 28, 2020 7:06 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 3:30 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 ...

Inside Apple's Coronavirus Store Closure Strategies

Thursday July 23, 2020 8:25 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 4:40 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, doc.ai, Geometer, IBM, NearForm, Tencent, and VMWare, and is launching with two exposure notification...

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

Wednesday July 15, 2020 3:59 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 Recloses 11 Stores in Southern California, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee

Friday July 10, 2020 4:05 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...

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

Wednesday July 8, 2020 2:46 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...

Apple Closing Stores in Southern California, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Texas, Utah and More

Wednesday July 1, 2020 11:49 am PDT by
As COVID-19 cases in the United States continue to climb, Apple is closing more of its retail stores in multiple states. This week, Apple is shuttering additional stores in California, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, and Oklahoma. The coronavirus has been spreading rapidly in Florida, Southern California, Texas, and other states where Apple is...

Apple Card Deferred Payment Program Extended Once Again Through July

Wednesday July 1, 2020 5:43 am PDT by
Apple has once again extended its Apple Card COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program by a month, allowing cardholders who enroll in the program to defer their July payment without incurring any interest charges. To enroll in the program, open the Wallet app on an iPhone or iPad, tap on the Apple Card, tap on the black circle with three dots, tap on the message bubble, and send a message along...

Apple Continues Store Closures Amid Covid-19 Spike, Now Shuttering 14 Locations in Florida

Thursday June 25, 2020 11:50 am PDT by
Apple is continuing with store closures in areas that are experiencing significant spikes in coronavirus infections, and tomorrow, 14 retail locations in Florida will be shut down. The Galleria, The Falls, Aventura, Lincoln Road, Dadeland, Brickell City Centre, Wellington Green, Boca Raton, The Gardens Mall, Millenia, Florida Mall, Altamonte, International Plaza, and Brandon will close...

Apple Reclosing Some Stores in Texas Amid Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Wednesday June 24, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Apple is closing seven retail stores located in the Houston, Texas area, as coronavirus outbreaks in the state continue to climb. Last week, Apple shuttered stores in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with no details on when those stores might reopen. In Texas, the following stores are closing on June 25, as noted by 9to5Mac: Highland Village, First Colony Mall,...

Apple Again Closing Some Stores in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina Due to Coronavirus Spikes

Friday June 19, 2020 9:28 am PDT by
As coronavirus outbreaks spike in some areas of the United States, Apple is planning to close retail stores located in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina, according to Bloomberg. Apple began reopening stores in the United States in May, and as of this week, 154 of the company's 271 stores had been reopened. Coronavirus cases are climbing in some places in the U.S., however, ...

Canada to Launch Nationwide COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Based on Apple/Google Technology

Thursday June 18, 2020 11:11 am PDT by
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced that Canada plans to launch a nationwide COVID-19 contract tracing app based on Apple's and Google's Exposure Notification API, as noted by iPhone in Canada. Trudeau said the app is slated for release in early July, with testing set to begin in Ontario soon. COVID Shield, a reference for public health authorities to build their own apps ...

UK's Contact Tracing App Will Reportedly Use Apple/Google Solution After All

Thursday June 18, 2020 5:49 am PDT by
In what appears to be a reversal of course, the BBC today reported that the United Kingdom's National Health Service will adopt Apple's and Google's Exposure Notification API for its COVID-19 contact tracing app after all. Other countries that have committed to using the API include Italy, Latvia, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, and Saudi Arabia, among others. Apple released the API as part ...

More Countries Implement Apple/Google API in Contact Tracing Apps, Including Germany, Poland, and Saudi Arabia

Tuesday June 16, 2020 6:48 am PDT by
Germany, Poland, and Saudi Arabia are among the latest countries to implement Apple's and Google's jointly developed Exposure Notification API in their respective COVID-19 contact tracing apps, available on the App Store. Apple released the Exposure Notification API as part of iOS 13.5 last month. At the time, Apple said that 22 countries had requested and received access to the API, with...