Apple's AirPort base stations are gone, and we wish they weren't

24

Comments

  • Reply 21 of 79
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,035member
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.

    Would Apple go out of the way to say that the product line is terminated if they were going to do something in that space?

    Why wouldn't they simply ride the wave of silence for another 5-6 weeks?

    Where did you see that Apple was terminating all router efforts? All I read was "We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products," which is a very specific statement.
  • Reply 22 of 79
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    ascii said:
    Why now? I think it's because 5G LTE celluar is starting to come online and Apple is skating to where the puck is going. 5G really is a massive improvement over current cellular technology.
    Perpetual growth in cellular is unsustainable. There's not enough bandwidth for everything and everyone to be on cellular.
    digital_guycornchip
  • Reply 23 of 79
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.
    Could it be some new Apple mesh router base station -- combined with the fact that every other Apple device (from, say 2017 or later) already has the ability to be another station on the mesh.  This would be a natural for plugged in devices like Desktop Macs, AppleTVs, HomePods, etc. -- and optional for Mobile devices when not being charged (plugged in)?

    If Apple has the tech/balls to do this, think of the benes to: a classroom of iPads;  a hospital; POST terminals in stores or restaurants, etc., your home...

    We currently run an 11ac AirPort Extreme and a Linksys Velop with 3 stations.
    edited April 2018 Hypereality
  • Reply 24 of 79
    mike54 said:
    Why is Tim Cook cutting off such a vital piece of internet and home network connectivity is short sighted, granted it has been stagnated for more than a few years now.
    They had the engineering talent to improve on the technologies and functionality of these units and Apple had had alot to offer in the router/modem space especially to Apple customers. This is yet another in a list of items that Tim Cook hasn't been interested in since becoming CEO.
    I suspect Tim (Apple) is doing that because they have developed a better solution!
    cornchip
  • Reply 25 of 79
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 762editor

    The original technology wasn't even Apple's. It was a reworked 802.11b Orinoco Gold PCMCIA card with the antenna protrusion lopped off, with a similar card in a carrier inside the AirPort Base Station

    The original base stations were so unoriginal internally as to be a straight up implementation of the AMD reference design, using a 486 processor to run the show. Seriously.

    What made them shine was that Apple showed the world you didn't have to go to Cisco school to learn how to set up Wi-Fi, which you pretty much had to do prior to Apple's Airport. Linksys didn't exist yet, and Linksys were pretty much the ones who showed the world how to do a web interface for configuring a router in a mostly-humane way.

    cornchip
  • Reply 26 of 79
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 762editor
    rob53 said:
    WiFi routers are like PCs, they constantly change without any real reason. Those Velop mesh stations aren’t exactly inexpensive, something Apple haters complained about AirPort costs all the time. I read mesh stations need to have line of sight between stations, or at least minimum walls, to work properly. That’s difficult in many houses so I’m not that excited about moving to them. I had two AirPort Extremes connected via an Ethernet cable and they ran great. Easy to configure and they just worked. 
    Incorrect, depending. If you are using Wi-Fi for the mesh network, then you want fewer obstructions between base stations. It will work through walls, but if you're already placing them in weak areas, as many people do, as opposed to at the edges of good coverage areas to spread to weaker areas, you're asking a lot of it. However, if you have wired backhaul between them, place them anywhere you please.
    tenthousandthings
  • Reply 27 of 79
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 762editor
    jdw said:
    In 2017 I purchased a TP-Link WIFI Archer C7 from Amazon because it was recommended by Macworld magazine (I'm a subscriber).  After some hellish setup, I got it to work, but Netflix wasn't working.  After searching the web and dealing with support in vain, I gave up and shipped it back to Amazon for a refund.  I then jumped on EBAY and bought the newest version Airport (white tower version), only because a used router is cheaper and looks aren't so important when you're going to hide the thing anyway.  Setup was drop-dead simple.  It works with Netflix.  And I've not had a problem in the world since then.  It therefore is very sad that Apple has gotten out of the wireless router business because people like me can't figure out non-Apple routers!  And no manner of Choosing a Wi-Fi Router tips from Apple will help.  Some of us need an Apple-branded router, even if expensive and funny looking, to help lower our blood pressure levels and make things JustWork!
    That's interesting - C7 was a reasonably good router at the time. Its processor is a little slow today, but for the time, it was really quite good, and better than ones that were newer than it for a few good years. I've had one and run Netflix without issues, so I have to think there must have been something unique about your ISP and DNS. That replacing it with an Airport solved the problem is interesting.
  • Reply 28 of 79
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    Soli said:
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.

    Would Apple go out of the way to say that the product line is terminated if they were going to do something in that space?

    Why wouldn't they simply ride the wave of silence for another 5-6 weeks?

    Where did you see that Apple was terminating all router efforts? All I read was "We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products," which is a very specific statement.
    If Apple is not getting out of the router business its kind of odd they’re allowing it to be interpreted that way.
  • Reply 29 of 79
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member

    mike54 said:
    Why is Tim Cook cutting off such a vital piece of internet and home network connectivity is short sighted, granted it has been stagnated for more than a few years now.
    They had the engineering talent to improve on the technologies and functionality of these units and Apple had had alot to offer in the router/modem space especially to Apple customers. This is yet another in a list of items that Tim Cook hasn't been interested in since becoming CEO.
    I suspect Tim (Apple) is doing that because they have developed a better solution!
    I get the feeling this is just wishful thinking. If we’re to believe Bloomberg, the engineers assigned to this product were reassigned to other things in late 2016. And in 2018 Apple started offering 3rd party solutions in its stores.
    Alex_V
  • Reply 30 of 79
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.
    ^^

    I’d add to that, they can sell it for about the price of a HomePod...
  • Reply 31 of 79
    Apple should just discontinue all their products and focus on iPhone.
    cornchip
  • Reply 32 of 79
    This article completely misses the point of why Airports are going away.  The reason is pretty simple.  It has everything to do with the advent of ISP-supplied wifi routers built into existing cable modems, DSL modems and fiber modems.  When that began happening and more importantly, when these add-ons became good enough for the masses, there wasn't much of a need for the third party market.  Ask yourself, how many friends and family do you know that solely relies on the cable modem provided by Comcast, Verizon or Time Warner?  This crowd that visits this website is a different kind of user.  But for the vast majority of the users out there, the ISP provided solutions were just fine.  In fact, advancements in wifi speed and antenna technology made these kinds of wifi routers give very good performance in most home and apartments regardless of where they were placed.  Only those of us with larger homes, difficult obstacles or desiring the latest in wifi gaming speeds/latency really needed to continue getting wifi from the traditional ways.

    Looking back over the advancements of personal computing technology over the last 4 decades, we usually look at the beginning in the 70s with the first personal computers, the invention of the IBM PC and Mac in the 80s, GUI interfaces in the Wintel world in the 90s, the advent of the web combined with the Google search engine in the 90s/2000s and then the iPhone/smartphone in the 2000s.  But we often miss one extremely important event...the epoch of wireless communication.  We got modern laptops in 1990 (thanks Apple!) but if you wanted to communicate for email, AOL or the early web, you still needed a cable, which was most likely a phone modem in those days.  Thanks to Lucent Technology who invented Wifi (whose name was also missing from article), Steve Jobs saw an opportunity to give the Mac another compelling reason for adoption (remember, Apple in those days in the late 90s had still just escaped from going out of business).  Fresh off of the initial success of the iMac, Apple needed a hook to get buyers to the new lower priced iBook and when Steve Jobs saw wifi in the labs, he knew he had his hook.

    When the iBook was announced and then the "one more thing" was that you could actually use the thing wirelessly (again, email, AOL, web), it was a jaw dropping demo.  Even better, it was a reasonably priced option for it and the Airport base station.  And while Lucent announced you could get the Orinoco wifi card for PCs, only the iBook (and later the Powerbook (Firewire) had it baked in with no drivers to install and an easy setup application.  Remember in those days, most people got their internet through dialup so the early Airports base stations could do that too.  And Apple wisely came out with an Airport base station configuration tool for Windows since for quite a while, the Airport was the only base station on the market and many PC owners (and even many companies) who adopted early technology bought them.  It was an instantly profitable line of business during days where Apple desperately needed the cash.

    But most importantly, it was a new era of wireless communication.  We take it for granted now with wifi hotspots literally everywhere and global cellular communications.  But in the summer of 1999, Steve Jobs not only introduced this major piece of tech but he made it sizzle.  He showed how it was going to change the world and brought it to Apple's new low priced laptop, not the Powerbook line first.  Now wifi is everywhere in everything (even home appliances!) and wifi base station technology is delivered straight from the ISP in most cases.  The need for most people to own an Airport no longer exists.  And yes, its a sad day.
    StrangeDaysMisterKitcornchipwillcropoint
  • Reply 33 of 79
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    mike54 said:
    Why is Tim Cook cutting off such a vital piece of internet and home network connectivity is short sighted, granted it has been stagnated for more than a few years now.
    They had the engineering talent to improve on the technologies and functionality of these units and Apple had had alot to offer in the router/modem space especially to Apple customers. This is yet another in a list of items that Tim Cook hasn't been interested in since becoming CEO.
    I suspect Tim (Apple) is doing that because they have developed a better solution!
    I agree!   Or, at least I agree that Apple sees a better solution.

    As the article points out, abandoning WiFi / Home Wireless at this point is puzzling.   There are so many reasons to stay involved with it:  Security, IoT, (future) functionality as we have seen with products like Apple Watch that blend multiple wireless technologies together...

    So, I can only see Apple doing this if they see a brighter, clearer future ahead using different techniques and technologies.   And, I think that one is:   5G

    5G has the potential to replace both cable and WiFi.  Potentially, with it you simply don't need no wires, no way, no how...   And, without a cable coming into the house, there is simply no reason to own a router...
    cornchip
  • Reply 34 of 79
    zlyden said:

    I still have the first generation of Airport Express that works great as AirPlay connection to sound system (it never was very reliable as a router).

    That makes me wonder if I should jump and get the last generation of Airport Express while supplies last and use it for next 10 years? 

    Probably not. I just remember too well what happens when Apple drops support for your device in AirPort Utility. That is: you should keep ancient PowerBook somewhere in the house just in case you want to configure the router… :smiley: 

    Problem is Airplay 2. If you need/want any of its features, that is. I certainly do. I was hoping that the current Airport Express would get a firmware update to support Airplay 2. I guess it's still possible, but not likely at all. We should know soon.

    My new hope/fantasy is that those engineers that were pulled off Airport were moved to HomePod, and we're going to see a small device that is basically the HomePod without the high-end sound. Something I can use to replace the five Airport Express units in my house, which are all used for music only. I would not be optimistic about this except for the perception that HomePod is all about Apple Music subscriptions. If Apple is serious about that, they need something like this. "HomePod Audio" -- maybe two variants, one that is designed to work with a sound system, one with a built-in amplifier that you can hook directly up to basic speakers.
    edited April 2018 zlydencornchip
  • Reply 35 of 79
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,661member
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.
    Why would Apple recommend a direct mesh competitor (Linksys Velop), one which they recently put into their stores, if they soon planned on selling their own mesh product? Neither makes sense, so I don’t think we’ll see an Apple mesh product announced at WWDC. 
  • Reply 36 of 79
    neilmneilm Posts: 979member
    ISP supplied routers, sure, and mesh systems (Eero, Velop) for more extensive coverage needs.

    But where's the substitute for Apple's excellent Time Capsule? Hope ours never dies.
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 37 of 79
    I suspect the fact that broadband ISPs include an integrated wi-fi router with their cable or dsl modem now is also a factor. I still have my 2TB time capsule on my home-lan, but it has it's wi-fi disabled as I am using the supplied cable modem/router with 1 gigabit broadband on the wan side, and dual band gigabit wi-fi. .
  • Reply 38 of 79
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,234member
    rob53 said:
    WiFi routers are like PCs, they constantly change without any real reason. Those Velop mesh stations aren’t exactly inexpensive, something Apple haters complained about AirPort costs all the time. I read mesh stations need to have line of sight between stations, or at least minimum walls, to work properly. That’s difficult in many houses so I’m not that excited about moving to them. I had two AirPort Extremes connected via an Ethernet cable and they ran great. Easy to configure and they just worked. 
    Not true. Mesh systems do not require line of site. Each sat, just needs to be in range of the main router or another satellite.
  • Reply 39 of 79
    Having used Apple routers since the original one, it's a bittersweet day... but I'm not really upset. I think Apple probably realizes, like external displays, this really isn't something they need to focus their teams on.

    I use three AirPort Express units for AirPlay, so I'm concerned those will eventually become security risks on the network or that the original AirPlay will be deprecated, but other than those I moved off of Apple's routers two years ago when my last Time Capsule started to fail (second of three to do that). I placed a Drobo on the network to handle the backups and then moved to the Orbi when we bought a new house.

    Now, I'm smarter than your average bear, yes, and I've run various firmwares (Tomato, DD-WRT, OpenWRT, etc.) in the past on a lot of different routers. I get that not everyone is going to enjoy moving to another router ecosystem. I personally kept coming back to Apple's because of ease of use, but the other manufacturers have really gotten to the point where they've surpassed what Apple was doing with hardware (much of the software still leaves something to be desired - for example, the Orbi app could really learn from the AirPort Utility).

    I think the main loss here is the easy to place AirPlay ability. The fact you can drop that almost anywhere and have a S/PDIF output for a good set of speakers is a loss. We've used AirTunes/AirPlay for music and audio for 12 years or so and have gotten quite comfortable to the quality you can get out of those.

    I'm hoping this means there is a HomePod/AirPort Express hybrid coming (a "HomePod Express"?). Something that has the S/PDIF output (and maybe a crappy internal speaker) and a decent mic array that can be dropped somewhere easily and let us use our preferred speakers. I'd love to see that. If Apple doesn't do it, I'm hoping someone steps into the fray and at least creates an AirPlay 2 WiFi node that replicates that function on the old Express.
    edited April 2018 dick applebaumcornchip
  • Reply 40 of 79
    neebong said:
    Cant say so much about the first Airport Express tho, it was great for what it was, but after about a year you couldnt use it for Airplay since it skipped so much..


    Those dropouts were solved with a firmware upgrade. And, in our case, we also had to relocate the Express because a microwave was causing interference. :D
    cornchip
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