Just a few months ago, we were reporting on the news of Chinese tariffs on American goods, and the effect they would have on the consumer tech and retailing world. That issue now seems to pale in comparison to a much bigger giant we’re facing over there.
No matter what part of the world you’re from, you’ve likely heard of the massive outbreak of Coronavirus that has claimed the lives of over 600 people in China and surrounding countries. While the lives lost are undoubtedly the most devastating, it’s eye opening to see the effects of this health crisis on the supply chain of major tech brands.
Apple, Google, and many others have temporarily closed stores and offices in Mainland China and have limited business travel to affected areas. Japanese video game giant, Nintendo announced that production of the Switch console and its accompanying accessories has been delayed until further notice. Sharp Electronics is considering moving its production lines out of China completely if the epidemic shows no sign of recovery in the near future. Analyst firm Jefferies told Business Insider that shipment of Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X could face shipping delays. Amazon has restricted business travel to China except for critical situations and all employees who visited the country have been asked to work from home for two week following their return home. Microsoft employees based in China have been advised to work from home and cancel nonessential business travel until February 9th. Airbnb customers affected by the Coronavirus will be allowed to cancel their reservations without penalty.
And I haven’t even gotten into the trade shows that will be affected just yet.
Mobile World Congress is expected to kick off on February 24th in Barcelona and several companies have already backed out. LG and Ericsson will both withdraw from exhibiting and participating at Mobile World Congress 2020 out of safety concern for employees and the general public. ZTE cancelled a scheduled press conference but said all other scheduled activities for the show will continue as planned.
The MWC issued a statement assuring that the Coronavirus would have minimal impact on the event, and that the association will take precautions to avoid the spread of germs. A no-handshake policy will be in effect, additional medical personnel will be on-site, and guest speakers will be subject to a microphone changing protocol.
But even with these extra precautions and reassurances, the number of exhibitors and attendees backing out of MWC 2020 is likely to keep growing.