Apple axes Wi-Fi router division, apparently signaling the end of AirPort

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2016
Apple has apparently disbanded its internal wireless router development team, assigning engineers to other, more lucrative projects within the company, and bringing to an end the development of Apple-branded routers, a new report has revealed.




Citing unnamed sources within Apple, Bloomberg reported on Monday that the former AirPort engineers are now working on other teams, including Apple TV development.

The internal changes would suggest that Apple has no plans to update its lineup of routers, including the AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule, and AirPort Express. Apple's portable AirPort Express has not seen an update to the latest 802.11ac wireless standard, remaining available with last-generation 802.11n performance.




The news comes months after Apple pulled the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule from its U.S. stores. Those products haven't been updated since 2013, when they were refreshed to support the speedy 802.11ac wireless standard.

AirPort routers have been a part of Apple's hardware lineup since the first base station launched in 1999. In an onstage demonstration, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs used a hula hoop to showcase the wireless connectivity of the iBook Mac notebook.



The lineup was expanded with the first AirPort Extreme in 2003, the portable AirPort Express travel router in 2004, and the Time Capsule with integrated hard drive for backups starting in 2008.

Apple's routers have long offered more than just wireless connectivity -- integrated USB ports allow capabilities such as printer sharing or networked hard drives, and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack on the AirPort Express allows the device to act as an AirPlay music streaming receiver.

News of the apparent demise of AirPort comes weeks after it was also revealed that Apple has exited the monitor business and will not build a successor to its Cinema Display and Thunderbolt Display lineup. Instead, for this fall's MacBook Pro refresh, Apple partnered with LG to make new 4K and 5K UltraFine Displays that connect via USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.

If you're looking for the best AirPort alternatives from third-party manufacturers, see AppleInsider's Wi-Fi router guide.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 226
    I wonder if the Time Capsule will be refreshed without a routing/AP capability in the future. 

    This particular move to discontinue the Wi-Fi routers I do not particularly disagree with. There are plenty of other players in the market that release decent consumer Wi-Fi routers. Mesh routers are becoming popular, so Apple would either have had to make a serious development effort to stay relevant or to discontinue the line altogether.

    Obviously, under the bean-counter-in-chief, anything that doesn't rake in cash gets nixed. 
    edited November 2016 avon b7perkedeljay-tSpamSandwichnumenoreanelijahgjbdragonargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 226
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,807member
    Makes sense -- now that apple is going after the coffetable book market, things like wireless routers and displays need to be axed. 
    neo-techred oakjbishop1039Mid Prisspbruttoavon b7Roger_Fingasperkedellarryaslprescott
  • Reply 3 of 226
    irelandireland Posts: 17,095member
    Makes sense. Competition in the router space is at the early stages of momentum now. The future isn't a single router anyway. It's an advanced mesh system. The bigger issue in the router space currently is cost, hopefully real competition of the coming years fixes this.
    edited November 2016 stevehlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 226
    Perhaps I am working with old information, but I thought that Apple only supported wireless Time Machine to drives attached to Apple routers?  Is this now supported to 3rd party network-attached drives?  


    jvmbdysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 226
    irelandireland Posts: 17,095member
    blastdoor said:
    Makes sense -- now that apple is going after the coffetable book market, things like wireless routers and displays need to be axed. 
    You're being sarcastic but also a bit shallow in your thinking. This book serves many purposes for Apple. It's nothing to do with money made or lost from it.
    ration alwatto_cobracalijay-tMikeymikedasanman69stickistamacplusplusstevehpropod
  • Reply 6 of 226
    I don't think hey'll discontinue the TimeCapsule or the Express, but they don't need their own team to build those products. Apple has too many services tied into its wireless lineup to scrap those products OR maybe they'll integrate the functionality into the Apple TV. I don't own a TV, but I guess the mass market would be there instead of in standalone routers and NAS for TimeMachine. Imagine an Apple TV with 8TB for movies and backups, functioning as a homekit hub.
    williamlondonjasenj1ration aljahbladejay-tdunestockpropodiqatedololliver
  • Reply 7 of 226
    This utterly sucks, I have recently been through 5 different routers from other vendors , all of which were complete shit. Two weeks ago I gave the AirPort Extreme a go and all my wifi problems are now fixed. 
    philboogiewilliamlondonChellinialphafoxlamboaudi4watto_cobralongpathcalijahbladeblastdoor
  • Reply 8 of 226
    Pity, had hoped wave 2 of 802.12ac would finally be implemented and had hoped USB3.1 would be added too. My existing AirportExtreme has suffered partial failure and I had hoped an improved model would be out in the near future. :(
    watto_cobracalilibertyforallnumenoreandysamoriaLeBart1968lolliver
  • Reply 9 of 226
    Eero, eer I come!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 226
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 112member
    Well I guess Cook thinks he makes more money with iPhones. But one thing is true: The less products I can get from Apple, the easier it will be to switch altogether. Windows isn't as bad as it used to be, Android isn't as bad as it used to be... And Apple is on a dangerous way. 
    jvmbperkedellarryaVSzulchucom2000sirlance99dunestocknubusSpamSandwichelijahg
  • Reply 11 of 226
    This, if true, is a bad move.  3rd party solutions are (still) a mess.  Their software absolutely sucks.  There is no integration with Apple products.  

    This, plus the decision not to make their own monitors, makes Apple very unreliable has I look at my personal tech roadmap.  I increasingly can't count on them 

    hucom2000hzcdysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 226
    It's the only competent product out there that I can find. That can deal with a ton of connected devices and not choke.
    williamlondonlongpathpscooter63macbear01dysamoriatyler82lostkiwiLeBart1968buzdotsaknabi
  • Reply 13 of 226
    technotechno Posts: 661member
    I too am a little confused by this. It may not be profitable on the surface, but the Time Capsule and Airport Expresses are key components to the Apple ecosystem. Streaming music throughout the house and backing up a household of Macs are a shame to lose. Perhaps unknwntrr is correct and they don't need their own team.
    jvmbhucom2000longpathloquiturdysamoriaargonautlolliver
  • Reply 14 of 226
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 112member
    sog35 said:
    blastdoor said:
    Makes sense -- now that apple is going after the coffetable book market, things like wireless routers and displays need to be axed. 
    Its all about margins my friend.

    The router business is a very  low margin business. Selling $300 books, massive margins.

    Plus the book project was necessary to keep Ive. Apple is stuck feeding Ive's massive ego now, allowing him to do some really ridiculous projects because he's so bored. IMO, Ive needs to be replaced with a chief design head that is motivated and hungry. Ive at this point is fat, satisfied, lazy, and content.
    It may be low margin, but long ago, Apple cared for the 'whole user experience'. If that means you need to sell things with a low margin to give the user a good experience. 
    jvmbperkedeljbishop1039jasenj1hucom2000longpathcalidunestockfriedmudnetmage
  • Reply 15 of 226
    ireland said:
    blastdoor said:
    Makes sense -- now that apple is going after the coffetable book market, things like wireless routers and displays need to be axed. 
    You're being sarcastic but also a bit shallow in your thinking. This book serves many purposes for Apple. It's nothing to do with money made or lost from it.
    If Apple's stock was at $120 instead of $110 he'd be lambasting anyone for complaining about margins. If I cared to take the time I could find numerous posts all about how important high margins are, how Apple's products aren't expensive enough, anyone complaining about 16GB devices are just cheap and should go Android blah blah blah.
    longpathelijahgdysamoriaaknabi
  • Reply 16 of 226

    red oak said:
    This, if true, is a bad move.  3rd party solutions are (still) a mess.  Their software absolutely sucks.  There is no integration with Apple products.  

    This, plus the decision not to make their own monitors, makes Apple very unreliable has I look at my personal tech roadmap.  I increasingly can't count on them 

    I don't get it as why wouldn't Apple want people to buy this stuff from them. Why cede accessories to other companies? The less of this stuff Apple produces the easier it is for people to leave the Apple ecosystem.
    perkedelteejay2012longpathdunestocknetmagelibertyforallpatchythepiratemacbear01dysamoriaFatman
  • Reply 17 of 226
    Mid PrissMid Priss Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
     Another sub-species in the Apple ecosystem gone extinct.

     I had a Pismo and a Airport with a 56k modem built in. It was way beyond anything else at the time.
    watto_cobralongpathkirkgraydysamoriatyler82LeBart1968coolfactor
  • Reply 18 of 226
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,387member
    We may not know whole story yet but Networking/Routers is not a core competency of Apple. In a changing world of wireless protocol standards and underneath hardware, plenty router focused companies can produce tiered, cost-effective better products. Apple probably seen no future to continue developing networking products.. On contrary, Google is not a hardware company like Apple but keep trying with different approach to routers, first OneHub and now 3-paired Google Wifi routers
    edited November 2016 Fatman
  • Reply 19 of 226
    While I think Apple's products definitely simplified the set up, I can understand why they'd axe it - most internet subscriptions already come with a wireless router. There isn't much point in buying one from Apple.
    Mauriziocornchip
  • Reply 20 of 226
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,984member
    To me, it's actually exciting that Apple is axing products left and right. It means that they're needing the resources to focus on something that is truly worth killing these products for. Also, goes against the notion that Apple's primary focus is simpy making money, and being money hungry. This is a company that can make an extra few billion by slapping their logo on products like routers and displays, but they chose not to because they don't feel the need to remain in every market if they aren't making a highly differentiated product than everyone else.
    watto_cobradbolandercornchip
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