Five gadgets affected by the coronavirus, from AirPods to the Nintendo Switch (and even Tesla)
Facebook’s Oculus headset and Apple devices are among the those taking a hit as a result of supply chain issues in China
Nearly every gadget in the world has some manufacturing done in China. Now the new coronavirus that’s killed more than 900 people and infected tens of thousands has resulted in one of the largest disruptions to production in the country.
As workers stay away from factories, supply chains for companies big and small are being disrupted. It’s already starting to impact the availability of smartphones, gaming consoles and other tech products.
Here are five gadgets already feeling the pinch of coronavirus disruptions.
The most recent announcement about supply chain disruption from the coronavirus comes from Facebook, which says it’s likely to impact the popular VR headset Oculus Quest. A Facebook spokesperson said on Friday that the device has been high in demand, and the outbreak will likely impact production and availability.
Facebook itself has suspended non-essential travel to mainland China and advised workers that recently visited the country to work from home. Facebook is blocked by the Great Firewall, but the company still has a sizable advertising business in China. Similar moves came from other US tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Apple.
Thanks to people being stuck indoors over fears of infection, gaming has become even more popular in China over the past few weeks -- so much so that people trying to play the local version of PUBG Mobile found themselves unable to get a game thanks to overloaded servers. But now Nintendo, which just released its first console in the country in December, is getting hit by a production crunch.
Nintendo apologized last week for delayed Switch shipments in Japan. Peripherals for the console like Joy-Cons and the fitness game Ring Fit Adventure are also affected by the outbreak, as well as the upcoming Animal Crossing-themed special edition.
But it’s not just about the hardware. Game publisher Private Division also announced delays for its Nintendo Switch port of The Outer Words developed by Obsidian Entertainment, saying that the virus is impacting one of the teams working on it.
Microsoft and Sony have yet to announce anything, but they could be affected, according to a note from analytics firm Jefferies. It’s especially notable because both companies are expected to launch the next-generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles later this year.
You might want to be extra careful about keeping track of your AirPods these days. Components for the wireless earbuds are reportedly in short supply with current stock running low, according to sources quoted by Nikkei Asian Review. Apple hasn’t confirmed the supply disruption.
Thanks to the US-China trade war, Apple asked some of its AirPods suppliers to build capacity in Vietnam. But the majority of AirPods production is still in China, according to the report. It’s bad news for Apple, which ordered the suppliers to ramp up production to 45 million units in the first half of the year due to high demand.
The coronavirus is also threatening the production of iPhones -- a worry Apple shares with most smartphone makers right now.
Asus ROG, Xiaomi’s Redmi and potentially many more
Asus and Xiaomi were the first smartphone makers to announce shortages due to the coronavirus. For Asus, the impact is hitting the ROG II gaming phone in India. For Xiaomi, it’s affecting several models of its Redmi sub-brand in China. But many more companies could see an impact.
Chinese companies Lenovo, Xiaomi and Oppo could all face issues, but some will face bigger challenges than others. Huawei, for example, relies on factories in Guangdong, far from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. But Lenovo relies on components from Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital. So the company could face shortages, according to Canalys vice president of mobility Nicole Peng.
But no matter where factories are located in China, smartphone companies will suffer. This includes Apple. Taiwanese company Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones in China, is currently negotiating with local governments about resuming production. It’s received an OK to restart at least one factory, Reuters reported.
Tesla Model 3
It might not be a gadget in the traditional sense, but Tesla’s electric cars are also getting hit by the coronavirus outbreak. In January, the Chinese government ordered Tesla to shut down its new Gigafactory in Shanghai.
The factory had just started delivering Model 3 vehicles manufactured in China. Elon Musk kicked off the China launch with a weird dance, presumably performed to woo buyers in the largest electric vehicle market. Even though the production has stopped, Musk seems unfazed. Tesla is offering free charging subsidies for drivers during the outbreak.
Other EV makers also seem to be experiencing difficulties (along with more traditional automakers). This includes one of China’s emerging “Tesla challengers,” Nio, which had deliveries slated for February, according to anonymous customers quoted by TechNode.