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Apple pulls out of South by Southwest festival amid coronavirus outbreak

Apple pulls out of South by Southwest festival amid coronavirus outbreak
March 5, 2020
(Reuters) - Apple Inc is pulling out of this month’s South by Southwest music and tech festival amid the coronavirus outbreak, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. The US death toll from coronavirus infections rose to 11 on Wednesday and California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency amid the nation’s largest outbreak. Facebook Inc had said earlier this week it would not participate in the festival. Representatives of the event did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The South by Southwest music and tech festival, set to be held in Austin, Texas, had said last month the event will proceed as planned despite “a handful” of cancellations related to the virus. The outbreak has disrupted other tech conferences and gatherings, including the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Google’s (GOOGL.O) annual developer event, Google I/O. Companies have also changed their work and travel plans.
IBM (IBM.N) said on Wednesday its developer conference ‘IBM Think 2020’ will be an online event and will take place from May 5 to 7. The company said it has issued new travel restrictions through the end of March.
Earlier, the number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since January, although global experts warn it is still too early to say the outbreak is being contained.
The economic fallout from the epidemic spread to US technology titan Apple, which warned of iPhone shortages and lower than expected revenue, while South Korea’s president called the situation in his country an economic emergency. Tough restrictions on travel and movement have helped to limit the spread of the virus outside the epicentre in Hubei province, but at great cost to the Chinese economy and global business. Apple Inc become the latest company to flag lower revenue as a result of the epidemic, saying it would not meet its guidance for the March quarter because of slower iPhone production and weaker demand in China. The US technology company’s manufacturing facilities in China had begun to reopen but they were ramping up more slowly than expected, and the resulting iPhone shortages would hit sales, it said in a statement to investors. “The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement released by Apple. China is the world’s biggest market for smartphones and some analysts have estimated that the virus may slash demand for handsets by half in the first quarter in China. Analysts at Nomura again downgraded their China first-quarter economic growth forecast, to 3%, half the pace in the fourth quarter, and said there was a risk it could be even weaker.
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