Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) 5G iPhone is expected to usher in the next supercycle of upgrade purchases when it’s released this fall. But with the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc on the whole tech industry’s supply chains — and the global economy — that launch date may have to be delayed.
That’s according to Bank of America, which said in a research report that the 5G iPhone release could be pushed back by a month due to COVID-19. Apple typically launches new iPhones in September, but past issues have led to some releases in October and November.
The bank’s analyst, Wamsi Mohan, based his assessment on a conversation with Elliot Lam, an Apple supply chain expert. Lam also warned Apple’s lower-cost iPhone SE2 will be delayed several months because of supply chain interruptions and less demand brought on by coronavirus. Ultimately, Bank of America said the launch date for the iPhone 5G will depend on how well production ramps back up in April and May.
Apple has already warned it won’t meet its revenue targets for the current fiscal second quarter because of the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on production in China. Since issuing that warning in February, Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed confidence production will soon get back to normal as factories in China reopen. Last week, Foxconn, one of Apple’s primary iPhone producers, said it expects to return to full production by the end of March.
As it stands, smartphone shipments in China during February plunged nearly 55%, with Apple taking the biggest hit. The China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) reported iPhone sales declined 61%. Apple sold 494,000 units in February down from 1.27 million a year ago. In January it shipped a little over 2 million iPhones.