How coronavirus is affecting big tech's bottom line

While major technology companies continue to throw significant resources behind fighting misinformation about the coronavirus and developing a vaccine, their business operations are also being severely impacted by the outbreak.

As the outbreak picked up steam in late January and early February, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook all announced they were limiting employee travel in China. Apple and Google were the first of the group to close stores and offices in the region.

Since then, as the coronavirus' reach has continued to spread, causing the cancellations of multiple global tech conferences, several of the "big five" tech giants have been forced to acknowledge the outbreak's impact on their finances:

  • Amazon, which has estimated that nearly half of its sellers are based in China, is reportedly stockpiling products manufactured in the country and communicating with sellers about how they predict their own operations will be affected by the coronavirus in order to avoid future disruptions to the supply chain, according to internal emails obtained by Business Insider and The New York Times.
  • On Feb. 17, Apple issued an update to its quarterly guidance to announce that it does not expect to meet the goals it had originally set for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020. The company cited two main factors for the updated prospectus: "worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained" and "demand for our products within China has been affected."
  • Facebook, too, has had to lower sales expectations. It is no longer accepting new orders for its extremely popular Oculus Quest virtual reality headset and announced that it was experiencing slowdowns in production and shipping due to the coronavirus. In a statement to USA Today, Sean Liu, a Facebook product manager, said, "The coronavirus has been a wrinkle all companies are facing. … So we're all working through it."

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