Tech in the Time of the COVID-19

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

The threat of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is borderless and the various ways by which it has spread continues to challenge experts. Aside from not exempting any country, the mysterious virus that is believed to have emanated from Wuhan, China is also affecting many companies across multiple industries, including technology. 

There are wins and losses in this sector with regard to COVID-19. The industry’s bright side sees home-based technologies staying strong, as more people are staying indoors, whether due to government- or self-mandated restrictions. CNN’s Paul R. La Monica says the stock of streaming company Netflix has increased by 15 percent, compared to the plunge experienced by movie theaters. In the article “Coronavirus is helping Netflix, Amazon and other ‘stay at home’ stocks,” he writes that it makes sense that that Americans are taking precautions in their investments and as a result, the “nesting” phenomenon caused by the virus “may benefit other companies that can cater to the wishes of home-bound consumers.”

On the downside, major events in industry, like the much-awaited Mobile World Congress (MWC) have been cancelled. Regarded as the world’s largest mobile show, major exhibitor companies like LG and OPPO had to withdraw their participation primarily due to the spread of the virus. The MWC regularly attracts as many as 100,000 attendees from around the world and is a venue for firms to launch phone new models and latest innovations. This year, 5G networks and phones were expected to be highlights. 

Social media giant Facebook likewise cancelled its F8 developer conference that was scheduled for May 5 to 6 this year. In its company statement, it explained that the “growing concerns around COVID-19” drove the company to cancel to be able to “prioritize the health and safety of… developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.” In place of the F8, Facebook plans to hold “locally hosted events, videos, and live-streamed content.” Just this week, Facebook also announced restrictions to its office social visitors and plans to conduct job interviews via video conferencing. 

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) was cancelled, few weeks before it was scheduled to be held in San Francisco, California. Key participants like Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment withdrew their participation because owing to the threat of the coronavirus. Along with the cancellation announcement, GDC shared plans of holding the event during summer in the United States and invited their speakers to share videos of their lectures that the group can share online. 

Much anticipated phone-launch events have mostly also been cancelled, save for Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked 2020 early February where the South Korean giant introduced the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy S20. On the other hand, doors were closed for OPPO’s Find X2 Global Launch Event scheduled in February, Redmi’s Note 9 series launch scheduled for March 12 in India, and Realme’s event for its Realme 6 series phones. Apple, which introduced the iPhone 11 last September 2019, is reeling from the supply chain effects of coronavirus as it is heavily dependent on China suppliers and workers. Chief executive officer Tim Cook shared in a recent interview that they will also monitor how the virus will affect Italy and Korea, where Apple also has suppliers. The firm has likewise reported that its financial forecast will not be met and the global supply of iPhone units will be affected because of the virus. 

While technology enables people to stay informed, work, learn, and be able to communicate from the comforts of their home, the usual busy world it depends on for innovation is experiencing a halt in many activities that are instrumental to its delivery. Scheduled events, travel for work, and even reporting to work for many tech companies have undoubtedly been affected by COVID-19. A difficult business climate now hangs over the likes of online travel agencies, shopping sites, and others.

Experts are accelerating efforts to produce a vaccine and cure for the mysterious illness. For now, we are grateful for our mobile phones, internet connection, and online venues to exchange information. These are indispensable to prevent the disease from further invading our lives – all gifts from the tech world that is doing its best during this strange, difficult time of COVID-19.