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Apple drops after report says iPhone launch could be delayed

A man uses his mobile phone as he walks past advertising for the new iPhones outside the Apple store in Hong Kong on October 10, 2019.

Philip Fong | AFP | Getty Images

Apple shares dropped late during the trading day on Wednesday after the Nikkei Asian Review reported that the company considered delaying its annual iPhone launch by months.

Apple closed at $245.52, down .55% after it was positive for most of the day during a stock market rally. It hit a high of $257.89 during intraday trading. 

Apple has launched new iPhones in September or October every year since 2011. In most years, a successful launch of the new devices, which account for over half of Apple’s revenue, is critical for the company. 

Nikkei reports that Apple is considering a delay to its iPhone launch by “months” because of issues related to consumer demand during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis and aftermath. In addition, Nikkei reports that Apple’s new iPhone will support 5G networks, and that has raised the pressure at Apple for the device to be a hit.

Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley is currently under a shelter in place order, and Apple’s engineers and corporate employees are working from home. Apple might not be able to firm up its iPhone plans until that ends, according to Nikkei.

Apple declined to comment.

The report comes shortly after JPMorgan analysts predicted that Apple could delay the iPhone launch by one to two months. 

The outbreak and response to COVID-19 has raised several challenges for Apple’s business, including disruption of its China-based supply chain for manufacturing, and now questions about consumer demand for high-end devices in countries that have shut down their economies to slow the virus. Global smartphone shipments dropped 38% year-over-year in February, according to an estimate from Strategy Analytics, a research firm. 

CNBC’s Josh Lipton contributed to this report.

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