There's an unknown number of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch devices, and Macs sitting in Apple Stores around the world that had been repaired, but not returned to their owners before Apple closed its retail stores, the company confirmed on Thursday.
Speaking to Business Insider on Thursday, an Apple spokesperson said that people and companies had brought their devices into the company's stores to be fixed at the Genius Bar. Some of those devices were left at the store when Apple announced it would close its retail locations until March 27. The spokesperson said that Apple successfully returned devices to some customers before the stores closed, but others couldn't be reached by phone or e-mail.
It's an unexpected result from the Covid-19 pandemic that has shut down much of the world and thrown companies, governments, and perhaps most importantly, hospital systems, into a state of disarray.
But those locked-down devices inside Apple stores might also have an impact on consumers and companies.
Apple had said that it wanted to reopen stores on March 27, but the company has since said that they'll be closed until further notice. In a leaked memo to employees this week, Apple said that it might begin reopening stores in the first half of April on a "staggered basis," but there's no telling where and exactly when that will happen.
For some companies, that can be a problem. At a time when employees are working from home, mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs are critical. If they're locked up inside an Apple Store for an unknown period of time, that leaves companies without devices that can help them do business. And that alone is a big problem.
The same holds for consumers who may have an iPhone locked inside an Apple Store. For some folks, it's reasonable to assume that iPhone is their main device for staying connected to family, friends, and emergency services. And it's unclear what they're doing without an iPhone in hand. Here's hoping those devices are safely returned.