AirPort Express stock-outs at Apple retail stores and Best Buy may hint at upcoming refresh

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, as well as some Best Buy outlets, are seeing stock-outs of Apple's AirPort Express, fueling speculation that the Cupertino company may be planning a refresh ahead of an anticipated next-gen iPhone release.

AirPort Express
Apple Store AirPort Express availability in San Francisco area.


AppleInsider has verified reports that multiple Apple Stores and Best Buy locations across the U.S. are out of the diminutive Wi-Fi router, with sales representatives not able to provide estimates of when new shipments are scheduled to arrive.

The Online Apple Store still has units in stock and ready to ship within 24 hours, as do certain Apple Stores, though other locations are showing "Ships to store" or "Unavailable for Pickup" status.

While not a clear indication that a new version is imminent, the stock-outs are notable as supply of the Express has been consistent since it was last refreshed over a year ago. The timing is also suspect given the first AirPort Express debuted in 2004, with Apple releasing two subsequent generations at four-year intervals. The last iteration featured a redesign and dual-band 802.11n compatibility.

With the launch of the latest MacBook Airs in June, however, Apple introduced support for 802.11ac standard, an upgrade to the long-standing 802.11n seen in all current Macs and Wi-Fi capable iOS devices. To go along with the laptops' new wireless capabilities, the company also introduced redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models with support for the speedy Wi-Fi protocol.

Industry watchers anticipate Apple will deliver 802.11ac support across its entire Mac lineup as new models roll out, including expected Haswell-based MacBook Pro models rumored to ship in September and a new Mac Pro slated for release by the end of 2013. Whether the specification will be included in next-generation iOS devices is unknown.

Apple's next big announcement is widely expected to be a Sept. 10 unveiling of the next-generation "iPhone 5S" and more affordable "iPhone 5C." There have been no rumors suggesting that a new AirPort Express will be part of the event.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29


    802.11ac. Why Apple doesn't update all their products with new tech at once just boggles my mind. They do want us to adopt new tech, don't they? They seem to be on both extremes about that: They'll take something like Thunderbolt and use it thirty years before anyone else would… and then they go and wait months to actually get 802.11ac into any of their devices, much less all of them. 

  • Reply 2 of 29
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    802.11ac. Why Apple doesn't update all their products with new tech at once just boggles my mind. They do want us to adopt new tech, don't they? They seem to be on both extremes about that: They'll take something like Thunderbolt and use it thirty years before anyone else would… and then they go and wait months to actually get 802.11ac into any of their devices, much less all of them. 

    I guess you never had to manage a product line. It takes time to get things updated - and they don't all require the same amount of work.

    Would you prefer that Apple not put 802.11ac into ANY product until they're ready to update EVERYTHING? That would be truly ridiculous.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    jragosta wrote: »
    I guess you never had to manage a product line. It takes time to get things updated - and they don't all require the same amount of work.

    Would you prefer that Apple not put 802.11ac into ANY product until they're ready to update EVERYTHING? That would be truly ridiculous.

    Well said
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Sept 10 can't come soon enough.
  • Reply 5 of 29

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Would you prefer that Apple not put 802.11ac into ANY product until they're ready to update EVERYTHING?


     


    I'd prefer the update process be expedited, as stated. It is, in this case, no more difficult than plopping a new board into the same case and running it through the gambit of EM tests. The product holding clamps don't even need to be rebuilt. Certainly that isn't true of their computers that use new chips.






    Originally Posted by Red Oak View Post

    Well said


     



    Agreed, and from one who'd definitely know himself!

  • Reply 6 of 29
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    I literally just got one today. So if it comes out ill just exchange it. Everyone has some cool ways they've used airport expresses for AirPlay- quick little props to myself on my most recent endevour.

    I recently acquired a very nice condition (exterior wise) 1964 Magnavox stereo console from our local habitat for humanity store for a whopping $10. Our decor at my house is very modern- but also very 60s type of furniture (although new)- very "Mad Men" like- so this peice was a find for us. It worked- barely- but once I cleaned all connections with air and a contact cleaner- it sounds like brand new- incredible sound- they don't make that quality anymore. I had to spring for a $9.50 new needle for the record player, and $5 for contact cleaner- so I was in it a solid $25. However- I wanted to give it a little modern flare- so I hooked the RCA out into a y to 3.5mm and put an airport express inside the cabinet out of view. Now I can play vinyl, AM/FM, And stream anything from my iDevices or Macs. Absolutely love this peice now. It just happens to also be a Wifi extender. :D
    [IMG]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/30693/width/200/height/400[/IMG]
    [IMG]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/30694/width/200/height/400[/IMG]

    #humblebrag ;)
  • Reply 7 of 29
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,056member


    I mainly use the Express when travelling (connect it to the hotel's ethernet plug, so I can use my MBP, iPad and iPhone) and at home to stream music to the bathroom and the terrace... For neither use 802.11ac makes any difference (bandwidth in hotels is far less than what even 802.11n does support and for music streaming even older standards work fine). I have never really seen the Express as a "one and only" hotspot for building a network - especially since it has always been one of the very few Apple devices that constantly fail (I think I am on my fifth now since 2005, but have never used the 2012 square model... maybe it is more reliable).


     


    Now, if the new "Express" does have a HDMI port and allows AirPlay (with video)... then I would see a point. Otherwise, I do not need it.


     


    (And yes, I do know that some people do use it to extend networks... just, I prefer some more reliable devices for my "infrastructure".)

  • Reply 8 of 29
    andysol wrote: »
    I literally just got one today. So if it comes out ill just exchange it. Everyone has some cool ways they've used airport expresses for AirPlay- quick little props to myself on my most recent endevour.

    I recently acquired a very nice condition (exterior wise) 1964 Magnavox stereo console from our local habitat for humanity store for a whopping $10. Our decor at my house is very modern- but also very 60s type of furniture (although new)- very "Mad Men" like- so this peice was a find for us. It worked- barely- but once I cleaned all connections with air and a contact cleaner- it sounds like brand new- incredible sound- they don't make that quality anymore. I had to spring for a $9.50 new needle for the record player, and $5 for contact cleaner- so I was in it a solid $25. However- I wanted to give it a little modern flare- so I hooked the RCA out into a y to 3.5mm and put an airport express inside the cabinet out of view. Now I can play vinyl, AM/FM, And stream anything from my iDevices or Macs. Absolutely love this peice now. It just happens to also be a Wifi extender. :D
    400
    400

    #humblebrag ;)

    That is sweet!
  • Reply 9 of 29
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    dreyfus2 wrote: »
    Now, if the new "Express" does have a HDMI port and allows AirPlay (with video)... then I would see a point. Otherwise, I do not need it.
    They have one of those already released. It's a black model under the name "Apple TV". ;)
  • Reply 10 of 29
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,056member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post





    They have one of those already released. It's a black model under the name "Apple TV". image


     


    Yeah, I have 5 of those.


     


    Still, a lot of people buy the Apple TV for Airplay only (we have 30 of them in the company, just for presentations and iOS training).


     


    Now, if Apple wants to make the next Apple TV more expensive (better CPU/GPU for app support, more storage etc.), then making the Express "fill the gap" would be a clever move. (OK, just a theory...)

  • Reply 11 of 29


    Makes sense. This portents well for a Macbook refresh next week, as well as 802.11AC compatibility for the 5S.

  • Reply 12 of 29
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    802.11ac. Why Apple doesn't update all their products with new tech at once just boggles my mind. They do want us to adopt new tech, don't they? They seem to be on both extremes about that: They'll take something like Thunderbolt and use it thirty years before anyone else would… and then they go and wait months to actually get 802.11ac into any of their devices, much less all of them. 



    Maybe they had to get UL approval and it didn't go through the process as fast, or maybe it's not a big enough seller to go to market with and it was just held off for a couple of months,  I'm sure there's a logical reason that we don't know about.  Maybe there's some chips they use in that model that they couldn't get enough in time for the product announcement.




    Or maybe they were just waiting to clear inventory levels.  There's always a reason and they don't always tell us.


     


    Try to run a company of that size, or any size for that matter and see what happens during the product development phase.  


     


    Most companies don't refresh their entire product line at the same time. They get product out as quick as they can, while managing current inventory levels of aging products.  There's a art to managing that properly.    Some people don't need 802.11ac or really care, but some do.  It would be nice to get all of their desktops and laptops all refreshed the same day, but ALL mfg wait until the product is ready to ship so they announce products sporadically.

  • Reply 13 of 29
    If the Apple TV extended wifi like the Airport Express, that'd be an awesome little product. I really like the AE, but I've had one die and one acts spotty, this is after 2 years, and they run hot. I hope the new one dissipates heat a little better so it doesn't cook. Some things could use a vent.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post



    I literally just got one today. So if it comes out ill just exchange it. Everyone has some cool ways they've used airport expresses for AirPlay- quick little props to myself on my most recent endevour.



    I recently acquired a very nice condition (exterior wise) 1964 Magnavox stereo console from our local habitat for humanity store for a whopping $10. Our decor at my house is very modern- but also very 60s type of furniture (although new)- very "Mad Men" like- so this peice was a find for us. It worked- barely- but once I cleaned all connections with air and a contact cleaner- it sounds like brand new- incredible sound- they don't make that quality anymore. I had to spring for a $9.50 new needle for the record player, and $5 for contact cleaner- so I was in it a solid $25. However- I wanted to give it a little modern flare- so I hooked the RCA out into a y to 3.5mm and put an airport express inside the cabinet out of view. Now I can play vinyl, AM/FM, And stream anything from my iDevices or Macs. Absolutely love this peice now. It just happens to also be a Wifi extender. image







    #humblebrag image


     


     


    Actually, there are companies that make product better and are better sounding, it's just going to cost a bloody fortune and you have to be a hardcore enthusiast to consider paying for it.    They just don't make these console units like that.   If you want that look for $10, go for it.  I don't like collecting that many antiques unless it's something that might increase in value over time.   I'm surprised they didn't GIVE you $10 to haul it away. You should have charged THEM instead. Obviously you didn't hold out long enough for a better deal...  /s

  • Reply 15 of 29
    jragosta wrote: »
    I guess you never had to manage a product line. It takes time to get things updated - and they don't all require the same amount of work.

    Would you prefer that Apple not put 802.11ac into ANY product until they're ready to update EVERYTHING? That would be truly ridiculous.

    Pwned
  • Reply 16 of 29
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,372member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


     


    Now, if Apple wants to make the next Apple TV more expensive (better CPU/GPU for app support, more storage etc.), then making the Express "fill the gap" would be a clever move. (OK, just a theory...)



     


    I like that theory.

  • Reply 17 of 29
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I'd prefer the update process be expedited, as stated. It is, in this case, no more difficult than plopping a new board into the same case and running it through the gambit of EM tests. The product holding clamps don't even need to be rebuilt. Certainly that isn't true of their computers that use new chips.
    Agreed, and from one who'd definitely know himself!

    OK, so you've proven that you HAVEN'T ever done product development or managed a product line.

    Thanks for clearing that up.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    drblank wrote: »

    Actually, there are companies that make product better and are better sounding, it's just going to cost a bloody fortune and you have to be a hardcore enthusiast to consider paying for it.    They just don't make these console units like that.   If you want that look for $10, go for it.  I don't like collecting that many antiques unless it's something that might increase in value over time.   I'm surprised they didn't GIVE you $10 to haul it away. You should have charged THEM instead. Obviously you didn't hold out long enough for a better deal...  /s

    Hah- of course, they make much better quality sounding speakers, amps, etc. I have some mid-level stuff in my media room (not as nice as your components, but decent). What I meant is- I doubt ill be able to fire up my Onkyo 929, clean some connections, and expect it to work in 40 years. ;).
  • Reply 19 of 29
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    elliots11 wrote: »
    If the Apple TV extended wifi like the Airport Express, that'd be an awesome little product. I really like the AE, but I've had one die and one acts spotty, this is after 2 years, and they run hot. I hope the new one dissipates heat a little better so it doesn't cook. Some things could use a vent.

    I've always wondered this too. But I couldn't think of a device that USES wifi for content, and is also an extender. Otherwise, why wouldn't an iMac be an extender too (if away from the source).

    The new Airport Express doesn't get nearly as hot. I had a couple old ones, they were definitely spotty to say the least.
  • Reply 20 of 29

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Andysol View Post



    The new Airport Express doesn't get nearly as hot. I had a couple old ones, they were definitely spotty to say the least.


    That's good to know. I have a couple Logitech audio streamers (utilizing their Logitech Media Server software running on my server as the source) and they discontinued the ones I'd been using. I've been contemplating switching over to Airport Expresses instead so I'll be keeping my eye on what they announce. The Logitech Receivers have been very reliable so I'd want the AEs to work as well as they do if I'm going to replace them.

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