The Chinese city of Zhengzhou – locally known as iPhone City because it is home to the world’s largest iPhone factory – has been placed under immediate quarantine following the discovery of COVID-19 infections.
This will have an immediate effect on the production of the iPhone 13, and will also impact Apple’s preparations for the subsequent assembly of the iPhone 14…
Zhengzhou had so far escaped lockdowns, and just yesterday the company asked Foxconn to speed up the hiring of iPhone workers, to make up for lost manufacturing capacity elsewhere in the country.
While most countries around the world have ended lockdowns, adopting an approach of living with COVID-19, China is maintaining its efforts to completely eradicate the infection.
A lockdown in Shenzhen last month forced Foxconn to halt iPhone assembly at two factories, though a combination of exemptions for closed-loop production and the company’s ability to switch to backup facilities mean iPhone production hasn’t been hit hard.
However, the lockdowns in Shanghai and Kunshan have caused Apple to stop production at three other vendors, and those are expected to have a much bigger impact.
Zhengzhou has escaped lockdowns before. Indeed, just yesterday we learned that Apple had asked Foxconn to onboard iPhone 14 workers earlier than usual, likely in hopes of establishing closed-loop production. at an early stage, to guard against lockdowns once assembly of this year’s iPhone queue begins.
iPhone City in containment
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that Zhengzhou has been placed on immediate lockdown following a small-scale COVID outbreak.
Zhengzhou, which on Wednesday recorded four new cases of Covid-19 and 10 new asymptomatic carriers, is under lockdown from Wednesday to next Tuesday. During this period, employees of government organizations and businesses in major areas of the city will work from home, school classes will be held online, and people will only be allowed to exit and enter Zhengzhou under “necessary” circumstances.
Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics contractor and main supplier to Apple, froze its hiring process for assembly line staff on Wednesday until further notice, according to updates posted on the networks. Chinese social workers by a number of labor recruitment agencies in Zhengzhou, capital of the central province of Henan. .
A week-long citywide lockdown may seem like a massive overreaction at just 14 cases, but China continues to insist it can completely eradicate the disease from the country by taking drastic measures like this one.
The 9to5Mac take
Although the number of cases is tiny and the current lockdown only lasts a week, this is an extremely worrying development for Apple.
iPhone production has already been hit by lockdowns in other cities, but Apple could take comfort in the fact that the world’s largest iPhone factory was unaffected. Foxconn even has backup production lines there specifically to compensate for the slack in assembly when other parts of China are locked down.
Even a short-term lockdown will have a significant impact, but the far more worrisome prospect is that once the infection takes hold in the city, there will be further or continued outbreaks.
Prolonged disruption in iPhone City would be such a big deal for China that it could even challenge the government’s zero infection policy, where a single confirmed case leads to lockdowns. A large part of the population is already frustrated with this policy, which could considerably increase the pressure to abandon it.
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