Posted on 14 February 2020

How the Coronavirus could leave a lasting mark on the tech industry

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The outbreak of Coronavirus, or Covid-19 as it has now been named, has been dominating the headlines for several weeks and shows no sign of slowing - infecting over 40,000 people in more than 20 countries to-date.

Its spread has seen over 1,000 fatalities in China so far and efforts are being made to contain the pneumonia-like disease by placing those infected in solitary confinement until they are clear of the symptoms. Efforts are also being made to get in contact with those who might have come into contact with anyone infected with the disease to further halt the spread. 

Experts have predicted that with the current outbreak in China, a country with immense economic power it should be said, a credible threat exists towards global economic growth. Tourism and travel are likely to be hit hard as a result, as well as finance and, believe it or not, the tech industry. 

The tech industry, particularly in the United States, relies on China for the purchase of goods and services. The country is also a key supplier of components for a number of consumer products made by the likes of Apple and Microsoft. 

In fact, the aforementioned Microsoft has issued travel restrictions and instructed employees based in China to remain at home as a precaution. Apple has also put its own measures in place with a number of its suppliers based in the city of Wuhan where the disease first emerged. The maker of the iPhone has said that it is “working on mitigation plans to make up for any expected production loss”. 

Google has temporarily closed all of its offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan due to the concerning health risks. The tech giant has also placed restrictions on business travel to and from the region. 

Naturally, businesses that use products and services from the likes of Microsoft, Apple or other tech giants based in China will be feeling the effects of the Coronavirus in the not too distant future if manpower and production drops as a result of the disease. 

It’s probably now on the agenda of many businesses that trade with China to look at backup plans in case such scenarios occur again in the future and, how they tackle the short-term effects of this specific incident. Many of our customers rely on packages such as Microsoft 365 and indeed many software and hardware providers across the globe rely on China’s expertise to keep the economic wheels turning. Any effect on these businesses could leave their mark on end-users and IT firms such as ourselves. 

So far, we haven’t seen any knock-on effects from the disease to our service offering, but it’s worth having it at the forefront of our minds for the coming weeks and months as the wider impact of the Coronavirus is assessed. 

Much bluster was made about the millenium bug – which never materialised back in 2000. It is quickly becoming apparent that a real life human virus has the potential to cause more damage to the tech industry than many computer viruses we’ve seen to date. Watch this space folks!