iPad stocks are reportedly running low in China because parents are buying them to help with e-learning at home in response to school closures relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
Nikkei Asian Review today reports that labor shortages have also seen suppliers struggle to meet production demands, amid government-imposed restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
“Later the need surged even higher when China opened schools but asked students to take the courses online,” one person familiar with the situation said. “The shortage of the iPad range is up to four weeks of waiting, especially for the cheaper models. The supply could not meet the pace of the demand at all.”
Today, Apple’s regional online store for China shows a three to four week delivery time for orders of the low-cost 10.2-inch iPad, while anyone ordering a 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have a wait of up to two weeks.
Demand is said to have been rising since January when Beijing imposed quarantine measures. One source told Nikkei that Apple recently ordered a 20 percent increase in production of iPads for the first half of this year, compared with the production forecast it gave suppliers in January, prior to the outbreak.
In Wuhan, where the outbreak began, schools are closed, and children have been using an Alibaba-owned corporate app called DingTalk to attend classes remotely. At least 50 million students are reportedly now taking classes online using the app, which would go a long way to explaining the strong demand for iPads.
Typically this would be positive news for Apple, but with suppliers severely affected by the spread of the coronavirus, the company has been unable to keep iPad stocks plentiful. Conversely, Apple has been unable to match 2019’s iPhone sales figures across China, with fewer than 500,000 iPhones sold last month amid the ongoing curbs on travel and transport, according to government data.
Apple told investors in February that it wouldn’t meet its revenue guidance for the quarter because of the impact from the epidemic.
The company closed all 42 of its retail stores in China at the beginning of February as the outbreak worsened, but most of the stores have re-opened, although many are operating with shortened hours. New infections and deaths reported in China have steadily declined in recent weeks, suggesting the enforced movement restrictions are having an impact on the spread of the disease.