Apple officially discontinues AirPort router product line, available while supplies last [...

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited April 27
Apple on Thursday announced the official death of its long-running AirPort Wi-Fi router line, a development many believed to be an inevitability after the division responsible for its development was axed more than a year ago.

Apple AirPort


Apple confirmed the demise of its base station lineup in an email to AppleInsider, saying existing stock will be sold through the company's online and brick-and-mortar stores, as well as authorized resellers, until supplies are exhausted.

News of the discontinuation comes more than a year after reports claimed Apple broke its AirPort division apart, a sign that it planned to soon ditch the branded wireless hardware. At the time, employees working on AirPort development were supposedly reshuffled to other areas and projects within Apple, including Apple TV.

"The original AirPort wasn't really ours, we bought that," a person familiar with the situation told AppleInsider. "[Apple] supported that for a very long time, even after we built our own, re-organized the division, and some of the guys we brought on to advance the platform were twice-removed."

For many, AirPort's death comes as no surprise.

The last major upgrades arrived some five years ago when the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models received an aesthetic makeover and 802.11ac support. Apple touted a new "mini tower" design with a beamforming antenna array to aid in long-distance transmission. Apple's AirPort Express was last updated in 2012 with a design revamp and dual-band 802.11n compatibility. The portable Wi-Fi router never received 802.11ac treatment.

Apple dropped hints that AirPort was not long for this world in January, when the Linksys Velop series became the first third-party router to be sold through Apple's online and physical stores.

In the interim, Apple pushed out the rare software update to keep the routers free of bugs and major vulnerabilities. In 2016, for example, the company issued new firmware to fix a Back to My Mac compatibility issue. Most recently, Apple patched a critical "KRACK Attack" exploit late last year.

AirPort was introduced in 1999 and became a hardware mainstay for nearly twenty years, though its evolution often lagged behind partner Mac and iOS devices that routinely integrate cutting edge Wi-Fi communications technology.

Apple began to build out its AirPort line starting with the first AirPort Extreme in 2003. That was followed up by the AirPort Express in 2004 and the hard drive-equipped Time Capsule in 2008. It was Time Capsule that enabled seamless local backups via Time Machine in OS X, a feature that continues through to macOS High Sierra.

Update: Apple has posted a support document detailing its recommendations for choosing a Wi-Fi router to use with its devices. The company suggests hardware supporting 802.11ac, simultaneous dual-band networking, WPA2 encryption and MIMO or MU-MIMO support. Interestingly, Apple says mesh networks are a good choice for areas that are large or difficult to cover.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 107
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,350member
    Too bad!  AirPort Extremes are rock solid and are still about the cheapest way to roam seamlessly between base stations on the same network using identical SSIDs.  Newer mesh network hardware can do this but they're also proprietary and have their own limitations and problems.

    That comment about the original AirPort having been bought is a lame diversion from the fact that Apple was the first major OEM to champion wifi. Like that excuses the company from exiting the business, when it had a huge lead over the competition.  Simply, leads are lost if efforts aren't adequately funded going forward.

    Q: what wifi hardware does Apple now endorse for use with its products?
    edited April 26 Alex1NCaffiendXanderPlooyolsbrian greensdw2001tokyojimumike54aylklongpath
  • Reply 2 of 107
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,160member
    Thing is, the apple of old provided a complete ecosystem that just worked.
    now, there are new innovative ideas that are released, then just left to whither with no further development (eg 3D Touch, HomeKit) or half arsed (eg homepod). The airport could have been the classic marriage of hardware and software that is greater than its parts. The AirPods seem to be an exception that reflects the apple of old.

    airport could have evolved into an out of the box mesh system that was trademark Apple easy to set up. And a reference hub for HomeKit that also ‘just worked’. Instead it was neglected. Like far too much of The Mac line.
    edited April 26 blastdoorCaffiendAlex1Nmajorslanantksundaramolsbrian greenDAalsethgilly017patchythepirate
  • Reply 3 of 107
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,152member
    Still the best router, WiFi unit I’ve ever owned.  Built like tanks and reliable. “Reliable” being the key word.  Never had to reset the routers once, where the D-link, netgear, and Linksys required monthly resets or their hardware failed.

    What other brand is there that has that kind of dependability and ease of use?
    blastdoorracerhomie3CaffiendAlex1NXanderPlooymagman1979anantksundaramolsbrian greensdw2001
  • Reply 4 of 107
    cpsro said:
    Too bad!  AirPort Extremes are rock solid and are still about the cheapest way to roam seamlessly between base stations on the same network using identical SSIDs.  Newer mesh network hardware can do this but they're also proprietary and have their own limitations and problems.

    That comment about the original AirPort having been bought is a lame diversion from the fact that Apple was the first major OEM to champion wifi. Like that excuses the company from exiting the business, when it had a huge lead over the competition.  Simply, leads are lost if efforts aren't adequately funded going forward.

    Q: what wifi hardware does Apple now endorse for use with its products?
    Linksys Velop
  • Reply 5 of 107
    This is quite disappointing. Yes, there are alternatives, and yes, we knew this was coming, but I always thought that the Airport was an important part of the Apple ecosystem. 

    A logic similar to the one with this decision could easily be applied to headphones, AirPods, HomePod, AppleTV, and pretty much every Apple-made accessory for the Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Watch.
    blastdoorAlex1Nmike54aylkelijahgrepressthisSpamSandwichpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 107
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,854member
    of TimeCapsule is still performing like charm after 4 years.
    blastdoorAlex1Naylkrepressthisredgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 107
    entropys said:
    Thing is, the apple of old provided a complete ecosystem that just worked.
    now, there are new innovative ideas that are released, then just left to whither with no further development (eg 3D Touch, HomeKit) or half arsed (eg homepod). The airport could have been the classic marriage of hardware and software that is greater than its parts. The AirPods seem to be an exception that reflects the apple of old.

    airport could have evolved into an out of the box mesh system that was trademark Apple easy to set up. And a reference hub for HomeKit that also ‘just worked’. Instead it was neglected. Like far too much of The Mac line.
    Yes, the software was also simpler ,and did much less. I am completely satisfied with all of my Apple devices, and after using the HomePod ,I still am. But I understand there are very few people willing to pay $100-$300 for something that is essentially given away. I love both of my AirPort Expresses, and they still receive more updates than other routers. I will upgrade to the AC AirPort Extreme in 2 to 3 years, and continue to use all 3 as a mesh network. I will never be upgrading from that.
    edited April 26 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 107
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,467member
    We knew it was coming but is sad nevertheless. Now that homes are truly becoming hi speed wireless environments, and expensive mesh systems are available, you would have thought Apple could have jumped into that space riding on the success of its Airport branding.

    Maybe they have plans for 5G and IoT in the home under a new branding.
  • Reply 9 of 107
    This is really lame of Apple. Where I used to live I had ceiling speakers in most rooms which were linked to a bunch of Airport Express’. It was a great way to use AirPlay. Playing music from your phone and being able to select the room you were in so easily. It could have been amazing for AirPlay 2. Now the only way you could do this in the future is by using Apple TV’s, although that seems wasteful just for audio...
    edited April 26 elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 107
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,858member
    I totally agree with other commenters lamenting the demise of Airport. 

    Data security/privacy is a big part of Apple's pitch these days. Home wi-fi routers are a huge potential security risk -- possibly the weakest link in the chain. 

    Maybe Apple could at least do a HomeKit certification for router vendors? My impression is that the requirements to get that certification are pretty rigorous. 
    XanderPlooymike54radarthekatpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 107
    I'm very sorry to hear that. I have an AirPort Express that I bought in 2010. The only times it was reseted was when the power gone out. Still works like new on my (not small ~1700 sqr ft) apartment.
    blastdoormike54watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 107
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,500member
    Just another reason to quit buy apple stuff.
    LOL...yeah Apple is just going down the shitter these days! /s

    Apparently the AirPort Extreme is prone to fan failures...usually right around 12-16 months in. 
    edited April 26 magman1979StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 107
    I have 3 AirPort Extremes of various generations (including the last one) and all still performing solidly. Would still choose them every time over anyone else’s WiFi routers. Sad day indeed. :(
    edited April 26 blastdoorracerhomie3mike54zeus423watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 107
    Someone at AppleInsider wrote a preemptive article was in defense of  Mr. Cook. Why?

    This is yet another bad, anti-customer decision.
    I don’t get it.

    Anyway, it looks like my backup router, a TP-Link 1900ac will soon become the primary and the Apple AC router secondary and eventually gone.


  • Reply 15 of 107
    macxpress said:
    Apparently the AirPort Extreme is prone to fan failures...usually right around 12-16 months in. 
    Oh c'mon, you can't be serious. That's a trivial problem that can be easily fixed by a $800B company producing some of the finest, most robust hardware in the world.
    mike54elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 107
    majorslmajorsl Posts: 35unconfirmed, member
    I recently got into a Asus line of routers from a couple of friend's recommendations. I've been very pleased with the range and they have their own Mesh now called AiMesh. Not that I needed it, one covers the entire house with a couple of bars even in the garage.

    Still have fond memories of my first WiFi router: Snow Airport I got for Christmas.
  • Reply 17 of 107
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,500member
    macxpress said:
    Apparently the AirPort Extreme is prone to fan failures...usually right around 12-16 months in. 
    Oh c'mon, you can't be serious. That's a trivial problem that can be easily fixed by a $800B company producing some of the finest, most robust hardware in the world.
    I didn't say it couldn't be fixed...I'm just stating they're prone to failures after 12-16 months. I would like them to keep the AirPort line going, but oh well, there are other alternatives. Honestly, if I were looking at a router right now, I'd look to get one of these. 

    https://www.apple.com/us-hed/shop/reviews/ME918LL/A/airport-extreme

    Just look at the reviews...its about 50/50. 
    edited April 26
  • Reply 18 of 107
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 145member
    Apple doesn’t much care about getting bored of products and dumping them.

    An excellent router is even more essential these days with the rise of streaming TV, connected speakers, smart home products, cameras, remote access etc etc

    It seems short sighted for Apple to have made this decision. 

    I use Google WiFi and it’s pretty good, can’t remeber who makes that router for Google.
    edited April 26 mike54danh
  • Reply 19 of 107
    mystigomystigo Posts: 104member
    cpsro said:
    Too bad!  AirPort Extremes are rock solid and are still about the cheapest way to roam seamlessly between base stations on the same network using identical SSIDs.  Newer mesh network hardware can do this but they're also proprietary and have their own limitations and problems.

    That comment about the original AirPort having been bought is a lame diversion from the fact that Apple was the first major OEM to champion wifi. Like that excuses the company from exiting the business, when it had a huge lead over the competition.  Simply, leads are lost if efforts aren't adequately funded going forward.

    Q: what wifi hardware does Apple now endorse for use with its products?
    I highly recommend the Netgear Orbi. It is an absolutely fantastic wireless "mesh" router system and worth every penny. I upgraded my cable connection to 350 / 30 last year and the Apple basestations were only giving me about 30 / 12. I researched it very thoroughly and settled on the Orbis. They give me 330 / 20 virtually everywhere in the house. The download speed is literally 10 times better than the Airports were. They are trivially easy to set up, look nice, and are highly configurable. I get the distinct feeling that Apple gave up trying to compete in this space -they aren't even remotely close anymore.
    edited April 26 radarthekatdblanch369dblanch369brucemcmike1
  • Reply 20 of 107
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,640member
    racerhomie3 said:
     I will upgrade to the AC AirPort Extreme in 2 to 3 years, and continue to use all 3 as a mesh network. I will never be upgrading from that.
    A mesh network is different from just having several routers with the same SSID. If you are connected to a regular wifi router, it will hang on to that signal as long as it can even if it becomes really weak. Not until the connection is completely gone will it switch over to a closer router. A mesh network needs to have special software that always uses the strongest signal and routes the packets back to the main WAN access path. Apple Airport routers don't do that.

    Also never say never when it comes to technology.
    patchythepiratepscooter63watto_cobra
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