We were expecting the new iPad Pro 2020 and budget iPhone 9 to be launched at an event towards the end of March – that hadn't been confirmed by Apple, but a multitude of rumors made it sound pretty likely. However even if there was going to be such an event, it's apparently been canceled.
This rumor comes from CultofMac (opens in new tab), as sources have told the website that Apple has scrapped its plans for the event due to coronavirus fears (Apple would be the latest in a long line of tech companies to postpone big product launches for the same reason).
The product launch was apparently set to be held in Apple's Steve Jobs Theater in California, which seats 1,000 people, but the escalating situation surrounding the rapidly-spreading ailment has called in to question whether such a large gathering would be a great idea.
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In fact, as CultofMac points out, the county the theater is in recently banned gatherings of 1,000 or more people as a preventative measure, and the area is one of the worst affected in California.
Instead, therefore, we could see the new iPad Pro and iPhone 9 (or iPhone SE 2, as it also could be called) unveiled at a later point in the year. We're also expecting the iPhone 12 in September, and if the coronavirus turmoil continues until the end of the year, Apple could push the iPhone 9 launch beyond even that in order to stop the two iPhones competing.
The new iPad Pro 2020, however, could see an earlier launch than that, as it doesn't really have any competition within Apple's ranks. It's possible the company could launch the product without as much fanfare as it was planning, in order to reduce the number of people converging in one space to see the product.
Either way, until the novel coronavirus outbreak blows over, it's likely to have a huge effect on tech product launches (well, it already has) as well as on product availability (since many tech factories are in China, the origin of this strain of coronavirus as well as the worst hit country).
The Apple event isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, re-arranged launch of the year.