The financial markets continue to be incredibly volatile as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to spread around the world. Apple shares have plummeted more than 12% as the market opens, starting the week off at $243.
Late on Friday, Apple announced that it would close all retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27.
Apple is closing stores in all countries outside of the Greater China region, the latter of which has apparently recovered following the peak of the outbreak there in February. Customers with active device repairs were serviced over the weekend and today.
Naturally, closing stores will mean lower revenue as customers cannot try its products, like the iPhone and iPad, in person and are therefore less likely to buy.
Lower customer demand is also simply a consequence of the pandemic; uncertainty and loss of income lead to fewer people buying luxuries like Apple devices. We already saw that iPhone sales in China fell 60% in February, compared to the same month last year.
However, most of the stock market fall is attributable to wider macroeconomic fears, rather than anything specific to Apple. The market is incredibly volatile as many investors fear that the knock-on effects of the coronavirus could send the world into recession, with so many events canceled and many people left out of work. It also remains unclear just how long this will go on for, with some estimating a couple of months and others looking much further out before returning to normality.
On Friday, Apple announced that WWDC 2020 will be held in a new online-only format this year because of public health concerns. The conference is typically held in San Jose and invites 5000 developers to a week-long event. Apple uses this venue to preview the major operating system updates for the year. This year, we are expecting to see iOS 14, macOS 10.16, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14.
Apple is clearly still planning the new WWDC as it would only say that the conference would be held sometime in June, without providing specific dates. However, it did confirm that a keynote of some form will go ahead (presumably held at Steve Jobs Theater for a very limited audience). It remains to be seen if there will be online substitutes for labs and other elements of the in-person WWDC experience. As in previous years, Apple will stream the keynote and developer sessions online for free.
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