In brief: The ongoing issues at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant in China are impacting Apple's production plans. Protests against the extreme Covid restrictions that have seen many workers walk out of the factory are expected to result in a shortfall of almost 6 million iPhone 14 Pro handsets this year due to lost production.
Foxconn's facility manufactures the overwhelming majority of iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max devices. Operations were disrupted in mid-October following a Covid outbreak that put the factory and its 200,000 workers into a "closed loop" lockdown.
It's claimed that 20,000 workers have been put in quarantine on-site. There have also been reports of food shortages, leading to mass walkouts by workers. Bloomberg reports that many were replaced by new employees who rebelled against pay and quarantine practices.
Foxconn was recently forced to deny reports that eight people had died at the plant since the lockdown began. It's also had to deal with videos emerging online of employees escaping the compound by climbing fences and, in some cases, walking miles to get home---Foxconn said it would not stop them from departing. The company has tried to appease full-time workers by offering them bonuses as high as $1,800 per month for staying at the factory through December and January.
Workers have broken out of #Apple's largest assembly site, escaping the Zero #Covid lockdown at Foxconn in #Zhengzhou. After sneaking out, they're walking to home towns more than 100 kilometres away to beat the Covid app measures designed to control people and stop this. #China pic.twitter.com/fShxj8WpIl--- Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) October 30, 2022
Apple warned earlier this month that Covid-19 restrictions at the factory would impact shipments of the two iPhone 14 Pro models. It's expected that six million units will be lost as a result of the disruption, though Apple and Foxconn hope to make up for the loss next year.
Apple isn't having the smoothest time with its iPhone 14 launch. Slumping demand for expensive tech products due to the global economic downturn saw Cupertino dial back plans to increase production of its newly released iPhone 14 in September to about 87 million units from an earlier estimate of 90 million units.
In October, there were reports that Apple had instructed two suppliers to lower production of the iPhone 14 Plus by 90%, less than two weeks after the phone debuted, on the back of weaker interest in the handset. It seems paying at least $899 for a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus when people could get an iPhone 14 Pro for $100 more---or a 14 Pro Max for an extra $200---is too big an ask.