Digital art for the tele
Digital art for the tele

Sold out: Apple, Samsung plagued by coronavirus

Tech stores across Australia are running out of AirPod, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy stock as the coronavirus outbreak slows manufacturing in China and experts are warning it could be the start of a sector-wide shortage.

Some Aussie tech retailers are already running out of the popular headphones and some phones as Apple reserves stock for its website and brick-and-mortar stores.

Apple, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are also either facing delays or have run dry of phone and some wireless headphones stock.

Telstra on Friday confirmed it had completely sold out online and in some stores of AirPods Pro and the iPhone 8. The company also said there are delays of up to 15 days on other AirPods and the iPhone 11, 11 Pro Max and newly released Samsung Galaxy S20 5G.

A spokesman for Telstra said there is "minimal impact to our customers at this stage, relating to a small number of devices that are currently running low on stock."

Vodafone has also warned of delays of between 6-8 weeks for some iPhones including the iPhone 11 and the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G and 4G.

 

 

 

Vodafone's Corporate Affairs Director Dan Lloyd said the spread of coronavirus globally has placed constraints on trade, resulting in a shortage of some smart devices.

"As a result we are seeing global constraints on supply of some devices and we are working intensively with all parties to minimise impacts to customers," Mr Lloyd said.

"Our main focus is ensuring maximum transparency for our customers so we have put in place an ordering process which gives customers the best information possible regarding delivery timelines."

Optus has also sold out of the Apple AirPods and iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. The company is also telling customers to expect delays up to four weeks for the delivery of the Samsung Galaxy S20 newly released 5G.

The tech provider blamed the issue on Apple's "stock constraints" due to the virus.

"This will directly impact Optus customers through either a shipment delay or reduction in stock available for sale," a spokesman said.

 

In January, Apple reported difficulty meeting customer demand for AirPods
In January, Apple reported difficulty meeting customer demand for AirPods

The companies say the shortage is a result of a manufacturing slowdown in China - one of the biggest tech manufacturing hubs in the world - due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The virus has caused staffing shortages and shipping problems - an issue exacerbated by the recent Chinese New Year holidays.

Thousands of orders are now stuck in limbo as the number of coronavirus cases skyrockets across the globe.

While some tech providers report running low, Apple says it does have some stock online and offline. Despite this, shoppers will face long delays for some items. Customers who order AirPods with Apple online today will have to wait until March 13 for delivery in some parts of NSW.

When asked whether the global impact of the virus would stall the release of new phones, none of the companies responded.

Optus, Telstra, Vodafone and Apple are all either facing delays or completely out of iPhone, AirPods or Samsung Galaxy stock due to the impact of the coronavirus. Picture: Andre Penner
Optus, Telstra, Vodafone and Apple are all either facing delays or completely out of iPhone, AirPods or Samsung Galaxy stock due to the impact of the coronavirus. Picture: Andre Penner

The news comes after the tech giant earlier this month warned investors it would fail to meet its quarterly revenue target because of "temporarily constrained" supply of iPhones due to the virus and Chinese New Year.

"Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to meet the revenue guidance we provided for the March quarter," Apple said in mid-February.

Apple CEO Tim Cook in January said the company could not make enough AirPods and Apple Watch Series 3 to meet customer demand.

Apple declined to comment on the current shortage and delays on AirPod and iPhone stock.

 

 

Experts say the product dry-up is a sign of what could become a worsening trend in coming months. Picture: Damian Hofman
Experts say the product dry-up is a sign of what could become a worsening trend in coming months. Picture: Damian Hofman

Russel Zimmerman from the National Retailer's Association says the dry-up is part of what will become a broader trend of tech stock selling out.

"We are going to start seeing shortages from now on, will be patchy at first but will soon spread to other things. Tech will be the first to dry-up," he said.

Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, is a titan for heavy metal manufacturing, meaning that tech products will be the worst-hit., Zimmerman says.

Already, retailers across the board are suffering 4-6 week delays in the delivery of many products.

Dominique Lamb from the Australia Retail Association also said the tech supply chain has been stalled by the virus.

"What we've heard is that because of the closure of factories in China there has been issues in the supply chain getting products out. Since mid-February some have been opened but the electronic supply chain and others are having some problems."

 

The company says the disruption is "temporary" and demand for the products remains strong.

International demand for the wireless headphones has been growing, with nearly 65 million sold in 2019.

Mr Zimmerman said the dry-up could result in a huge spike in demand pushing the price of Apple items going up.

He urged people to avoid panic-buying and instead to wait for stock to fill-up.


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