RIP AirPort, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule.
Roughly 6 years, AirPort products have not been updated since 2012 (Express) and 2013 (Extreme and Time Capsule), and in late 2016 by Apple Inc., which instigated that the longstanding rumours of Apple exiting the WiFi router market were true, according to Bloomberg, which explained that Apple had stopped development on the AirPort line up with the AirPort engineers reassigned to other products. And now, as reported, the company is officially discontinuing its AirPort and Time Capsule base stations.
Apple has officially ended development on its AirPort line of products, which includes the AirPort Express ($99), the AirPort Extreme ($199), and the AirPort Time Capsule ($299).
“We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products. They will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last” an Apple spokesperson told iMore.
WiFi has become a commodity. Apple introduced its AirPort line in 1999, when any wireless networking was a luxury. Flash forward, nearly two decades later, and it’s a different story. WiFi routers are so commonplace that many internet providers give you a modem with the technology built in, and even the lowest-priced routers are adequate for most uses. High-end users, meanwhile, have an abundance of choices that includes both ridiculously fast conventional routers as well as mesh routers with greater coverage.
The decision is bittersweet for fans, regardless of what Apple does next. Its routers aren’t as vital as they used to be, and they haven’t been price-competitive for a while (the same $199 can easily buy a modem-and-router combo with faster wireless). At the same time, it’s sad to see Apple bow out of a market it helped create. Many users bought AirPorts precisely for their tight integration with the Apple ecosystem (including a design that doesn’t look like an alien spaceship), and that option is going away.
As a way to help users choose another service, Apple has shared a new support document offering tips on choosing a Wifi router to use with Apple devices. The company recommends a router that offers 802.11ac, dual-band support, WPA2 Personal encryption, and MIMO or MU-MIMO.
Apple plans to continue to sell the three AirPort products online and in its retail stores until available supplies are exhausted. No price drops have been implemented at this time.