Early last month, Apple closed all 42 Apple Stores in China as the coronavirus was running amok in the country. At the same time, Apple's brick and mortar stores were remaining open elsewhere. By March 13th, the number of new cases of COVID-19 contracted daily in China was starting to come down and Apple reopened all 42 Chinese stores. Ironically, at around the same time, Apple chose to close all Apple Stores outside of China. Originally, these stores were supposed to stay closed until March 27th, but just days later Apple decided to change this to "Our retail stores are closed until further notice."
Apple hopes to reopen some Apple Stores during the first week of April
Bloomberg reports today that Apple has informed its retail staff that some of its retail locations could reopen in April. This would be done on a staggered basis with some stores opening for business during the first week of April. Bloomberg obtained an internal memo written by Apple's Senior Vice President of People and Retail Deirdre O’Brien. The executive wrote, "For all of our retail stores outside of Greater China, we will reopen our stores on a staggered basis. At this time, we anticipate some stores may be able to open in the first half of April depending on the conditions in their community. We will provide updates for each store as soon as specific dates are established."
O'Brien's memo also noted that Apple employees who aren't needed at the office should continue to work from home. "In all our offices outside of Greater China, we are extending flexible work arrangements for all team members -- outside of those whose work requires them to be onsite -- through at least April 5, which will then be reevaluated weekly depending on your location."
Outside of China, Apple has 458 retail stores. Those outside of China who want to purchase an Apple device can go to the online Apple Store, or tap on the Apple Store app. That doesn't mean that you will be able to purchase the device you want in the configuration you want it in. That's because the assembly lines producing certain devices like the iPhone have yet to return to normal speeds. But didn't Apple just launch two new iPad Pro tablets and a nifty Magic Keyboard Case you ask? Well, the latter won't be available until May and it is believed that the tablets were manufactured in January when the coronavirus was a regional problem.
We still expect Apple to introduce its entry-level iPhone 9 model although it might not happen a week from today as originally rumored. As far as the first 5G iPhone models are concerned, the company has reportedly made test units already. But since members of Apple's engineering team will have to fly to China to sign off on the final design, there is a chance that the new handsets could be delayed. Production of the 2020 iPhone models is expected to start in July. And don't forget that they will be powered by the 5nm A14 Bionic, The chip will be manufactured by TSMC using its new 5nm process that allows for an increase of 84% in transistor density. Overall, the number of transistors expected inside the A14 Bionic is 15 billion. Yes, with a "B." That compares to the 8.5 billion found inside the currently employed A13 Bionic which is made using TSMC's 7nm node. The larger the number of transistors inside a chip, the more powerful and less energy-consuming these components become.
According to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International, Apple will be serving up four new iPhones later this year with all of them supporting 5G. We should see the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Plus, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. The Pro models should have four sensors on the back including the LiDar time of flight depth sensor that debuted on the new iPad Pro models.