There were fewer than 500,000 iPhones sold in China last month, after coronavirus cut demand and disrupted supply lines in the coronavirus-hit country.
As the number of coronavirus cases rapidly increased in January, the Chinese government cancelled large gatherings and celebrations for the Lunar New Year festival, a holiday traditionally associated with gift-giving.
Overall mobile phone sales in China have also taken a huge hit, with a drop of more than 50% in February sales compared to the same time last year.
The slump in mobile phone sales comes amid global financial turmoil, after markets dropped more than 7% in the worst day for markets since the 2008 financial crash.
Speaking to Reuters, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said: “While this is a very nervous time…we caution that Chinese demand in the March quarter is not the trend, but a “shock event” that we believe will be short lived.”
In February, Apple closed all of its 42 stores in China after citing an ‘overabundance’ of caution for the coronavirus.
However, as of yesterday, all but 4 stores have reopened, as cases in China plummet to their lowest levels since January amid tight restrictions on internal travel.
In a letter to investors, Apple chief executive Tim Cook warned that the company would be unable to meet its expected revenue targets due to the coronavirus-induced slump.
According to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, sales of Apple devices hit 494,000, down from a high of more than 2 million in January.
In February, China imposed a lockdown on close to 60 million people in virus-hit Hubei province, and issued quarantine instructions and travel restrictions for hundreds of millions more.
Authorities also required citizens to install an app on their phones that dictated whether they can travel or not, issuing them a colour code based on self-submitted symptoms.
But many have criticised the app’s sharing of data with police and the potential for mass social control even after the coronavirus spread stops.
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