The World Health Organisation officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, a day before India announced its first fatality due to the virus. The new strand of coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on industries — including tech — across the globe, and has resulted in a dip in sales, cancellation of major annual conferences and mandatory/advisory work from home. Here’s a round-up of how the virus has affected the tech sector:

In India

  • The Delhi government has suspended biometric attendance at all its offices until further orders. The central government has issued a similar advisory, which will remain in effect until October 31.
  • The Kerala government has suspend biometric authentication for the public distribution system, The News Minute reported.
  • A Google employee in Bengaluru tested positive for COVID-19, following which the company asked all its employees in that office to work from home on March 13, TechCrunch reported.
  • Number of rides on Uber and Ola have dropped by a third over the last week, since several companies have advised employees to work from home, The Economic Times reported. At the same time, around 5% of drivers on these platforms have reportedly left Bengaluru over fears of contracting the virus.

Effect on the Big Tech

  • After shutting its stores for a month in China, Apple said that it is reopening all 42 of its branded stores, Reuters reported. The company had earlier said that it will miss its quarterly revenue guidance because of the effects of the coronavirus.
    • Apple’s iPhone 11 series also reportedly took a major hit due to supply issues.
  • Major technology companies have asked all their employees to work from home in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes Twitter, which has made working from home mandatory, Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple among others.
    • Twitter will also pay its contractors, vendors and hourly workers, and will reimburse employees for their home office set up.
    • Facebook’s contract workers have reportedly not been allowed to work from home.
  • Microsoft said that revenue in the business segment that includes its Windows operating system and Surface devices would likely miss earlier forecasts. “The supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated at the time of our Q2 earnings call,” the company said.
  • Amazon removed over 1 million listings for items that claimed to cure or defend against the coronavirus, Reuters reported. Amazon is also being investigated by Italy’s anti-trust watchdog for an allegedly excessive rise in the price of products such as hand sanitiser during the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. eBay is also being probed by the regulator along with Amazon.

Event cancellations

  • After Facebook and Google cancelled the physical portion of their respective major annual conferences, Microsoft followed suit and cancelled the in-person part of its Build conference that was scheduled to take place between May 19 and May 21.
  • Tech and music conference SXSW, scheduled to take place from March 13 to March 22, has also been cancelled. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was set to deliver a keynote address at the event.
  • Major gaming event E3, scheduled to be held from June 9, was also called off.
  • Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has made its annual Snap Partner Summit an online-only event with a keynote scheduled for April 2.

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