Covid-19: Apple's decision to close all stores outside of China may be a sign of what's to come
- When it comes to combatting the coronavirus outbreak, Apple has a key advantage that other companies may lack: its close ties to China.
- While Apple's reliance on China has made the coronavirus particularly troublesome for the company, it also means it has been keeping a close eye on the situation and has likely been preparing for a worst-case scenario far earlier than many other businesses.
- Apple took the latest step in its battle to combat the coronavirus outbreak by closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27.
- Apple's actions could serve as a blueprint for how other retailers can contain the outbreak, says Wedbush securities analyst Dan Ives.
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For much of the world, the severity and ongoing ramifications of Covid-19, the coronavirus disease, have come as a shock. For many, the pandemic has uprooted business operations and social norms, as companies across the United States are grappling with new remote-work policies and the general public adapts to social distancing - disruptions that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned about several weeks ago.
But while the ramifications of the virus will undoubtedly have strong impacts to Apple's business, kneecapping its March quarter, the tech giant also has a key advantage that others may lack in this scenario: its close ties to China.
Apple's reliance on China, its third-largest market and home to most of its supply chain, has put the company in a unique position when it comes to handling the coronavirus pandemic. Namely, Apple's closeness to the situation from the beginning has left it preparing for a worst-case scenario far earlier than most other businesses.
Its responses throughout the outbreak, like announcing late Friday it would temporarily close all retail stores outside of Greater China, are worth watching as a sign of what may be to come for the rest of the world.
Last month, the company made the decision to keep its stores in China closed for longer than it had initially intended to on February 7, just days before the number of new daily Covid-19 cases in China peaked. It gradually re-opened stores with limited hours in the country as the outbreak in China began to slow.
On February 24, for example, more than half of Apple's stores in China had reopened, coming as the number new daily cases had dropped from more than 2 000 on February 17 to 415 on February 24. All stores in China were opened again by March 12, just after the number of new cases in China had dropped to single digits on March 9.
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