Apple course corrects for the coronavirus to keep its next iPhones on track

February 22, 2020, 2:00 PM UTC

Coronavirus is affecting Apple’s global supply chain. But that isn’t stopping the iPhone maker from planning big changes for 2020–even if its revenue is sliding.

This week, several reports surfaced on how coronavirus is also impacting upcoming iPhone models, including the budget-friendly iPhone 9 and flagship iPhone 12 models planned for later this year. But the news didn’t stop at the company’s Chinese production troubles. Apple is also considering a major shift in its native app policy in iOS, and its long-awaited AirTag product trackers may finally reach store shelves this year, a report said.

Apple’s coronavirus problems

Apple said on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak has slowed its supply chain and impacted sales, worldwide. The company said it will miss the second fiscal quarter revenue guidance it offered in January of between $63 billion and $67 billion. Apple said its decision was based in part on constrained supply due to less manufacturing facility production, but also lower sales across China. Apple didn’t provide new revenue guidance for the next quarter.

A shift in production

With no sign of supply chain problems letting up, Apple has started to shift some AirPods, iPad, and Apple Watch production from China to Taiwan, Taiwan News reported this week. Apple’s China-based partners won’t be able to resume full capacity production until March, according to the report. Apple has therefore decided to move as much production as possible to Taiwan, where restrictions on work and supply chain effects are minimal. Whether that will be enough to mitigate lost production in China, however, is yet unknown.

Apple’s product plans still moving forward

Despite its coronavirus woes, Apple is showing no signs of changing the rollout plans for its new products later this year. A budget-friendly iPhone 9 is still on track for a March release, Bloomberg reported this week. The company is also said to be working on a new iPad Pro that’s on track for a first-half of 2020 launch. A separate report from supply chain tracking site Digitimes said Apple is still working on flagship phones for this fall, and those devices, which might launch with iPhone 12 branding, are also on schedule.

A major change to iOS?

For years, Apple has been criticized for requiring its own browser, phone, messaging, and mail apps to serve as default options in iOS. But that might soon change, Bloomberg reported this week. Apple is mulling the possibility of allowing iOS users to set third-party browsers and other apps as their default choices in the operating system, the report says. This would be a first for the company, and be welcomed by many users. If Apple moves forward with the plan, which may be in development to fend off antitrust concerns, it could be available in iOS 14, which will be released later this year.

AirTags incoming

Apple’s long-awaited AirTag product trackers will be released this year, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors this week. The reliable Apple rumormonger and analyst said Apple is planning to produce tens of millions of AirTag units by the end of the year. Similar to Tile trackers, AirTags could be applied to other products and allow users to track their locations in Apple’s FindMy app, according to recent rumors. It’s unknown how much the AirTags will cost or exactly when they’ll launch this year.

Apple book hits back

Apple got into a public spat this week with former German App Store manager Tom Sadowski. Apple tried to block the sale of Sadowski’s book, App Store Confidential, because the company argued it revealed trade secrets. Oddly, Apple didn’t take the case to court, so the book remains on store shelves and is selling extremely well, according to its publisher Murmann. The company told Reuters this week that the book’s first run of 4,000 copies is nearly sold out and it’s now rushing to get a second run to store shelves.

One more thing…

Larry Tesler, a former Apple engineer and chief scientist who joined the company in 1980, died this week at age 74. Tesler is best remembered for creating the copy-and-paste technique that is now used across operating systems. Tesler also played a major role at Apple, helping Steve Jobs build LISA and the Mac. Here’s a video of Tesler talking about Steve Jobs and the Mac in 2011.

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