The deconstruction process has taken place of the past year, with engineers that previously worked on products like the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule being shuttled around to other divisions within the company. While Apple’s wireless routers integrate nicely with iPhones, iPads, and Macs, they don’t have broad appeal in a segment of the tech market that is often faced with tight margins.
Also working against Apple is the fact that competitors like D-Link and Netgear are considerably raising the bar with new and innovative products at a rapid pace. Netgear’s new Nighthawk X10 wireless router supports 802.11ad, includes a built-in Plex Media Server and a burly 1.7GHz quad-core processor. Even Google is looking to shake things up in the market with the Google WiFi router, which uses mesh technology to add coverage to every nook and cranny of your house.
But there are also two other things that have worked against Apple’s wireless router products — both of which are self-inflicted. First of all, the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule (basically an AirPort Extreme with an internal hard drive for Time Machine backups) haven’t been updated in over three years. In addition, pricing (ranging from $99 for the Airport Express to $399 for the Airport Time Capsule 3TB) has put the products well out of contention in competing with the top wireless routers on the market from a performance/value perspective.
“Exiting the router business could make Apple’s product ecosystem less sticky,” writes Gurman. “Some features of the AirPort routers, including wireless music playback, require an Apple device like an iPhone or Mac computer. If the company no longer sells wireless routers, some may have a reason to use other phones and PCs.”
For those that are fans of the AirPort series of products, this is likely sad news. However, rest assured that you’ll likely be able to find a much better router for less money from the competition.