As opposed to airlines, hotel chains, restaurants and millions of small businesses that are fighting for survival amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s most prominent tech companies have been remarkably unaffected by the crisis (so far). That’s one of the takeaways from a deluge of earnings reports that came out last week, providing us with a first glimpse at the pandemic’s economic fallout.
For the first three months of 2020, each of the GAFAM group of companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) posted positive revenue growth, despite the fact that China was at the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak in February and the virus started spreading rapidly overseas in early March, leading to widespread lockdowns in Europe and large parts of the United States.
Unsurprisingly Apple, the most hardware-focused company of the group, has been most affected by the pandemic, as it suffered from supply and demand effects in China followed by a drop in demand in the rest of the world towards the end of March. In fact, Apple is the only one of the five companies that didn’t see double-digit growth in the first three months of the year, with Amazon at the other end of the spectrum with a 26-percent increase in sales.
While these results are certainly positive, it’s important to note that the effects of the pandemic will probably become a lot more apparent in results for the second quarter of the year. While the Chinese lockdown created supply chain challenges for many companies in the first quarter, the global demand shock caused by the pandemic only affected the last weeks of March. April and May will be heavily affected by lockdowns however, with demand likely to be further weakened by people having lost their jobs or part of their income. On a positive note, several companies reported an uptick in demand towards the end of April after a steep drop-off in the first weeks of Q2, fueling hopes of a quick recovery once stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.