Tech giants put off handset debuts over pandemic

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Major tech giants have postponed the launch of their latest smartphone models as the global novel coronavirus outbreak has been classified as a pandemic, according to industry sources Thursday.

China’s Huawei Technologies was scheduled to announce its flagship P40 in Paris on March 26, but has decided to cancel the event as the World Health Organization has now labeled the fast spread of the virus as a pandemic.
As of Thursday morning, France reported 2,281 COVID-19 infections and 48 deaths, the fifth-largest country with infection cases.
Huawei instead will hold an online presentation as it did for its second foldable Mate Xs last month. The device’s debut was initially planned to be made at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 in Spain, but the expo was canceled over the virus outbreak. Spain has reported a total of 2,277 infection cases and 55 deaths as of early Thursday.
It also seems inevitable for Apple to push its plan for new phones to the latter half of the year. 
The US tech mogul has decided to put off its announcement schedule for the iPhone SE2 -- successor to its affordable, palm-sized iPhone SE -- from the end of March to the latter half of the year, according to news reports.
Whether it will hold an online event to present the model or not hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Some reports said it is also uncertain whether Apple will go ahead with the launch of its first 5G-enabeld iPhone 12, which had been pegged for September before the virus attack. 
A Bank of America analyst said Apple may push the schedule to October because of supply chain issues, according to a Bloomberg report.
The analyst was also quoted as saying that Apple’s launch will depend on how quickly Foxconn and other parts suppliers based in China get their plants back on track after closing or reducing capacity.
According to forecasts by Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments are set to decline 7.2 percent this year from 2019.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s top handset provider Samsung Electronics has been luckier than its competitors so far.
The launch of Galaxy S20 series and foldable Galaxy Z Flip, at a flashy event in San Francisco in mid-February without any delays, has given it a competitive edge over rivals in the phone race this year.
In more than 20 counties, the initial volume of Galaxy Z Flip was all sold out in less than one month since launch.
Samsung plans to release 5G-powered Galaxy phones, starting with the latest Galaxy S20, in over 40 countries this year, expanding the scope of its 5G market from 22 countries last year.
On Wednesday, the company held an offline event to launch the Galaxy S20 and Z Flip in Brazil.


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