Apple temporarily closes stores in China amid virus outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is temporarily closing its 42 stores in mainland China, one of its largest markets, as a new virus spreads rapidly and the death toll there rose to 259 on Saturday.

The iPhone maker said in a statement it was closing stores, corporate offices and contact centers in China until Feb. 9 “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts."

“Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it," the statement said.

Apple's online store will remain open.

China is the company's third-biggest market in terms of sales behind the United States and Europe and it is also where most iPhones and other devices are made. CEO Tim Cook told analysts on Tuesday that uncertainty due to the outbreak was keeping the Cupertino, California-based company from offering more specific guidance about its financial performance in the coming months after announcing results for the holiday shopping season that were far better than investors anticipated. 

RELATED: Take a look at Apple products through the years: 

16 PHOTOS
Cost of Apple products through the years
See Gallery
Cost of Apple products through the years

Apple II (1977)

Cost Then: $1,298
Cost Now: $5,333

Compared to 1976's Apple I, the Apple II was a revelation. While the first Apple lacked a monitor, separate keyboard or casing, the Apple II included the whole package, complete with the introduction of five-color on-screen graphics.

Adjusted for inflation, you could buy a used car for what the Apple II costs, but its price tag had brought the budding company $7.8 million in sales by 1978 — about $30 million in today's money.

Macintosh (1984)

Cost Then: $2,495
Cost Now: $6,036

This is when the world started calling Apples "Macs."

Though dropping six grand on a computer today is cringe-worthy, the original Macintosh was considered the first relatively affordable computer with a graphical interface at the time. Its specs included a whopping 128 KB of RAM, 400 KB of storage, a floppy disk drive and a 9-inch monochrome display.

LaserWriter (1985)

Cost Then: $6,995
Cost Now: $16,207

Apple no longer makes printers, but the LaserWriter was a huge initiative at the time. Its professional print quality aimed for the business market, and it was the first network-capable printer.

It also introduced the world to Adobe Systems, which provided the PostScript programming language that powered the machine. If the original price looked scary, it was, so Apple dropped it to $5,000 by fall 1986.

Newton (1993)

Cost Then: $700
Cost Now: $1,192

Developed while legendary Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was away from the company, and famously derided by him, the tablet-like touchscreen Newton paved the way for the success of the PDA, and later, the iPad. This small, hand-held product didn't catch on at the time, but it played a role in inspiring today's "all-in-one" device design, and even featured ahead-of-its-time handwriting recognition capabilities.

Power Macintosh (1994)

Cost Then: $2,600
Cost Now: $4,282

The closest modern equivalent of the Power Mac, the Mac Pro, starts at $2,999. Of course, its specs are just a little different.

While the original Power Macintosh — which was sold as the Macintosh Performa 6110CD for home use — sported a 60 MHz PowerPC 601 processor, the Pro rocks a 3.5GHz, 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor and its 8 MB of RAM are dwarfed by the Mac Pro's 16 GB of RAM.

iMac G3 (1998)

Cost Then: $1,299
Cost Now: $1,967

The introduction of the iMac in 1998 marked the first time Apple used its much-imitated "i" branding. At the time, the "i" in "iMac" stood for "internet," as the all-in-one desktop computer featured a built-in modem, which was uncommon when it launched. The first model came in a blue-green hue, called "bondi blue and ice" by Apple, but it later was available in a rainbow of colors. It marked the first major Apple work by iconic designer Jony Ive.

The iMac line looks a lot different — and less colorful — today, but it's still kicking, with 21.5-inch models starting at $1,099.

Final Cut Pro (1999)

Cost Then: Starting at $300
Cost Now: $450

With so much focus on slick hardware, it's easy to overlook the fact that Apple is a software company, too — unless you're a filmmaker who just dropped $300 on Final Cut Pro, that is.

The pitch remains the same today as it was in 1999: For one price, you get editing, compositing and effects in one professional software package. Apple positioned Final Cut as a "post-production studio in a box," though the philosophy changed a bit as numerous software expansions continued to add features.

AirPort (1999)

Cost Then: $299
Cost Now: $442

AirPort started with multiple offerings, and the tradition continues. Introduced as a wireless networking solution for 802.11b connections, the AirPort Base Station looked like a tiny UFO, but you always could opt for an AirPort card to add wireless functionality to your Mac.

Today, you can get AirPort models spanning from the Express to the 3TB Time Capsule, ranging from $99 to $399.

Power Mac G4 Cube (2000)

Cost Then: $1,799
Cost Now: $2,567

The Power Mac G4 Cube's beautiful design couldn't offset the high price tag, which, consequently, led to its marketplace struggles.

By 2001, its entry-level price had been slashed to $1,299. The cube-shaped brains of the box live today in the form of the Mac Mini series, however. Though the Mini doesn't include a monitor, keyboard or speakers like the G4 Cube, it starts at a much more reasonable $499.

iPod (2001)

Cost Then: Starting at $399
Cost Now: Starting at $554

From 2001 to 2011, Apple sold 300 million iPods. Though the idea of a dedicated MP3 player seems outdated today, the at-the-time appeal of carrying 1,000 songs on the original, scroll-wheel-equipped model's 5 GB hard drive cannot be overstated.

The iPod line eventually included a wide variety of models — from the Nano to the Shuffle — but Apple has since consolidated its offerings to just the iPod touch, which retails for $199 or $299, depending on storage size.

MacBook (2006)

Cost Then: $1,099
Cost Now: $1,338

Remember the early 2000s, when all the coolest tech products — from the iPod to the Wii — were glossy white? Yep, the MacBook was, too.

Starting a legacy that still thrives, the original 13-inch MacBook laptop was powered by a 1.83 GHz Intel "Core Duo" processor and featured a 13-inch widescreen display, complete with modern perks, such as a built-in iSight camera, USB ports and Bluetooth compatibility. Nowadays, an entry-level MacBook starts at a fairly comparable $1,299.

iPhone (2007)

Cost Then: Starting at $499
Cost Now: $608

Before you can sell a billion, you've got to start with one. The iPhone might not have been the first all-in-one hand-held device, but its mainstream appeal and standard feature set established the baseline for the modern smartphone. If your current device has WiFi support, Bluetooth, a camera, glass screen, accelerometer and multi-touch, you probably can thank the iPhone.

In 2018, an iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch display will cost you $699, meaning Apple actually has raised the price in this arena.

MacBook Air (2008)

Cost Then: $1,799
Cost Now: $2,191

Originally touted for its crazy-thin dimensions, the MacBook Air eventually caught up in terms of power and completely replaced the MacBook line from 2012 to 2015. Because Apple has had a full decade to get a better handle on squeezing more power into less space, modern MacBook Air laptops come at a much lower cost — in 2018, a 13-inch MacBook Air can be had for $999.

iPad (2010)

Cost Then: Starting at $499
Cost Now: $568

Microsoft introduced the tablet format in 2000, but it was Apple that finally got the tablet to catch on in 2010. Even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates acknowledges that Apple "did some things better than I did," noting that Apple nailed it in terms of "timing," "engineering work" and "just the package that was put together."

That slick package ended up being the biggest product launch of 2010 and went on to sell more than 350 million units, across various iPad models.

Today, Apple offers standard 32GB model iPads from $329.

iPhone 6 (2014)

Cost Then: Starting at $549
Cost Now: $569

The iPhone 6 makes the list not necessarily for its feature set, but for its groundbreaking mainstream penetration. Between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, this model has sold more than 100 million units since its introduction in 2014, making it the best-selling iPhone to date.

Perhaps due to this ubiquity, you still can get a 4.7-inch iPhone 6s, the phone's more advanced update, straight from Apple for $449.

iPhone X (2017)

Cost Then and Now: $999

Buoyed by crazy hype and endless rumors, Apple premiered the iPhone X in 2017, using its curved Super Retina screen and facial recognition features to test the waters of a high-priced, premium smartphone market.

With reports suggesting that Apple aims to halve iPhone X output in the first quarter of 2018 because of weak holiday sales, the gambit might not have paid off. But with a quarterly revenue of $88.3 billion in the fiscal quarter ending on Dec. 30, 2017, the giants from Cupertino, Calif., probably aren't sweating too much.

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

That performance propelled Apple's stock price to new highs earlier this week, but the escalating uncertainty about the situation in China quickly dampened spirits. Apple shares dropped 4% Friday to finish at $309.51.

In a Saturday note, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives predicted the store closures will have a “negligible" impact on Apple, largely because consumers in mainland China will still be able to buy iPhones and other products through online channels. Even if the shutdown of the brick-and-mortar stores extends throughout the entire month of February, Ives predicted it would lower only lower Apple's annual iPhone sales in that region by about 3%. Apple doesn't disclose how many iPhones it sells in China, but the company generated nearly $44 billion in revenue from the country in its last fiscal year.

Cook also said the company's contractors in China have been forced to delay reopening factories that closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Cook said the company was looking for ways to minimize supply disruptions. Some of its suppliers are in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak that's been under lockdown for more than a week.

Read Full Story