back to article Apple unplugs its home LAN biz, allegedly

Apple has pencilled in the end-of-life date for its 17-year-old AirPort product line. The news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which probably got it right even if it does describe routers as "access points that connect laptops, iPhones and other devices to the web without a cable." The report notes that wireless networking isn't …

  1. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

    That's nice.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

      Not really. When setting up a wireless network for the technologically unaccomplished I always use Airport because it's simple to configure as a mesh and simple to maintain - so I end up fielding fewer phone calls.

      It's not ideal kit for techies, not least because it doesn't have the sort of advanced options (like SNMP) that techies require. But for everyone else it's perfect and it's loss will be felt.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

        It's not ideal kit for techies, not least because it doesn't have the sort of advanced options (like SNMP) that techies require. But for everyone else it's perfect and it's loss will be felt.

        I concur. Apple is actually quite rubbish at detailing all it can do, I was astonished at how complete their WiFi router was when I bought it. It's a shame, but I can see it's not quite the high margin kind of product they want and especially not keeping up means there's plenty of competition now with better price/performance ratios. For instance, Apple has never really made an entry into MIMO traffic shaping.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

          >there's plenty of competition now with better price/performance ratios.

          Yep, not only are there more vendors offering mesh networking options these days, but there is now more competition for the little trick that Airport Express had: Multi-room audio.

          The Airport Express had little 3.5 mm audio-out sockets, but these days many people use Sonos, Chromecast, or other ways of playing music throughout their homes.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

            @Dave 126

            Cost comparison - Sonos vs. Airport Express? And Chromecast, whilst cheap, is Google - and some people would rather keep Google out of their houses. You might disagree, and Google might be an excellent fit for you, but some people do still value their privacy - and that’s a valid choice too.

            If you have suggestions for multi-room audio as cheaply and securely as Airport I’d love to know - my wallet is now open!

            1. What? Me worry?

              multi-room audio alternate to Airport Express

              @45RPM Airfoil by Rogue Amoeba. I started using their neat little trick before the Airport Express came to be. Great tool, and they support MacOS and Windows. Take a look and see if it's suitable for your needs. https://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

      2. s2bu

        Re: Apple reportedly exiting home LAN biz

        Actually is does SNMP perfectly well. In fact, as far as I can tell, unless you have the fancy education-only utilities, SNMP is the one way to pull a list of connected clients from the AirPort.

        One thing that I loved about the AirPorts is that they simply worked pretty reliably. Most cheapo APs seem to need to be rebooted almost weekly. The AirPorts seem to just work, although I have heard complaints about the mDNS on it being buggy. I'd like to think that it being NetBSD powered helped the reliability.

  2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Also, discovered penicillin.

    Apple reshaped the Wi-Fi market – and consumer expectations – by making WiFi routers simple.

    Seriously? Reshaped the market?

    When at least a half dozen companies were each outselling the Apple product by what - ten to one?

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Also, discovered penicillin.

      Who was outselling Apple in wifi in 1999? In fact, how many consumer laptops even had wifi before the iBook was launched by Apple? None. iBook was the first.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Also, discovered penicillin.

        "how many consumer laptops even had wifi before the iBook was launched by Apple? None. iBook was the first."

        My 14" G3 iBook (2002?) was certainly not the base model but didn't come with wifi included.

        It did have a slot for one though, which came in handy a year or two down the line.

        Those were the days. Upgradeable laptops. I could also max out the RAM when it turned out that even double the minimum available wasn't really enough.

  3. jonnycando
    Facepalm

    I got one of the AC routers, and two older ones in use as repeater/extenders on my property, I better update the older ones while I can still get some!

  4. bazza Silver badge

    What's Going On?

    Apple are dropping their WiFi product line, Google are busily trumpeting their own that's not on sale quite yet?

    One's gotta wonder what Google see in it that Apple don't. Slurping opportunities?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What's Going On?

      Apple and Google make their money in different ways.

      Not only are Google making a posh router, but also professional router brands who traditionally served offices and hotels are offering lower-cost consumer models with easy meshing and other tricks.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: What's Going On?

        Apple make money with hardware, a router is hardware. Apple make money selling security and privacy, Airport routers get updates. Apple make money selling ease of use, Apple's routers are easy to use. Still not getting it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's Going On?

          Apple make money with hardware, a router is hardware.

          Apple make high margin hardware.

          Apple upsell even higher margin services upon that hardware.

          Routers are not high margin.

          There is no upsell on routers.

          Getting it?

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: What's Going On?

            Both Google and Airport routers are sold at a premium.

            As Tim is a beancounter he'd also think it's a perfectly valid argument but it fails to address the fact that an ecosystem is worth more than the sum of its parts. E.g. Airport Express uses AirPlay and only Apple products do AirPlay reliably.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: What's Going On?

      Maybe Jony Ive doesn't fancy drawing any new wifi routers? Apple are getting out of the entire tech sector and will soon just be selling objet d'art.

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Busy, too busy

    Apple staff can't be designing screens that go under screens, designer BT earbuds, ways to make people suddenly need BT earbuds, coffee table photo books, and Christmas trees then still have time for computer hardware.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Does this mean Time Capsule gets the chop too?

    That was pretty useful and if they wanted to they could have made it a kind of "Just Works" home myCloud, but I guess they're not visionary any more and just want to push people onto iCloud.

    There's also Airport Express which pipes music to speakers which definitely will be for the chop as it's an Airport product.

    They've already knocked their displays on the head.

    Why are they busy dismantling the Apple ecosystem? When they turn into yet another bunch of dreary smartphone pushers and the bottom falls out of that market they'll be fucked.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean Time Capsule gets the chop too?

      Probably - as they can charge you rental for your data in the iCloud instead.

      What do you mean, peasant? You don't have that large a broadband capacity? Doorman, throw him out to the gutter where he belongs!

  7. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Apple to only sell ideas in the future...

    You read it here first, but as Apple are closing down all of their old stuff, and making the new stuff completely undesirable (MacBook Pro, new Iphone, iWatch, etc.), I get the impression, they are trying to get by buy selling just an idea of a good product. Cut out all that awful boring manufacture, they think people should be paying them just to come up with the ideas of great products. Just don't ask them to produce anything, it all goes down hill from that point!

  8. Adam Jarvis

    Worth watching, regarding the iFixit teardown / Recyclability (shockingly bad).

    Twit.tv (Leo Leporte) the show, the new screensavers, did a really good investigation into the recyclability of the new macbook w/touchbar.

    The interesting fact that came out was that even Apple's recycling facility can't recycle the new macbook, due to the lithium-ion Batteries being glued in.

    https://www.twit.tv/shows/new-screen-savers/episodes/80?autostart=false

    Worth watching from 24 minutes onwards for iFixit section, macbook review starts around 9 minutes.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Worth watching, regarding the iFixit teardown / Recyclability (shockingly bad).

      Any chance of a transcription?

      For a tooled-up recycling facility, glue is easier to dismantle than screws because end-of-life products can processed in an oven. This is less labour intensive than using a person with a screw driver.

      The trick to bringing costs down, as in manufacture, is the (dis)assembly line.

      Apple have a vested interest, for sure. But then so do iFixit.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Worth watching, regarding the iFixit teardown / Recyclability (shockingly bad).

        umm Lithium Ion batteries in an oven...

        I'm totally not seeing what can go wrong there...

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Worth watching, regarding the iFixit teardown / Recyclability (shockingly bad).

        The iFixit guy said it was impossible for any recycling plant to recycle the Touch ID MacBook Pro. He said he knows which plant Apple uses and they can't do it either.

        The Touch ID MacBook Pro is about as fixable and maintainable as an iPad, i.e. it's not. If the motherboard dies you lose access to your data.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Apple reshaped the Wi-Fi market

    You talking only about the shape of the box, otherwise it's nonsense?

  10. rh587

    The report notes that wireless networking isn't a big enough market to get its own line item in Apple's accounts

    Which is strange when you consider how keen they are to strip wired I/O out of all their products including the "pro" ranges.

    Sarcasm aside, the Airport Extreme is one thing, but this move presumably knocks the Time Capsule on the head, along with the Airport Express which played music. I wonder if we'll see a replacement Sonos-type streaming box coming out, as they're leaving the Apple TV hanging on it's own in terms of home-media.

    Or maybe AppleTV is going to get axed as well and they've just decided that the likes of Sonos, Amazon FireTV, etc are doing it better than them and they're getting out of the network-media-player game altogether?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      There's lots of other ways of playing music from an Apple device these days. iDevices play nicely with Google Chromecast /Audio devices, as well as Sonos and others.

  11. John Robson Silver badge

    Oh - I quite liked the Airport range

    I was considering a couple for improved WiFi (still on g at home)

    I shall be looking elsewhere...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Oh - I quite liked the Airport range

      There's more to choose from today than ever before. Apple haven't been chasing anyone's custom for Airports for a while, since they haven't had a price drop for years.

      1. Joe Gurman

        Re: Oh - I quite liked the Airport range

        There is indeed an incredible breadth of WiFi access points available, but none in my experience has been anywhere near (as in orders magnitude near) as simple to set up as the AirPorts I've had or set up for others the last 15 years. Other than one that got fried in an electrical storm, none has even failed.

        Compare and contrast that with the utter rubbish kit I've purchased (or been wheedled into working on for friends) from multiple vendors, and Apple wins hand-down. I confess fully and freely to not having tried every router now on the market (who has the time, energy, or money?), but for what it does, the AirPort Express is arguably the best WiFi access point out there, for simple home installations. For traffic shaping, latest (unofficial so far) protocol, whatever, undoubtedly not but (uh oh, prepare for Apple haters' apoplexy), it just effin' works.

        I'm truly sorry Apple felt their new quarterly earning were going to be affected by the volume of sales of this product line.

  12. Blotto

    Wait for them to be officially discontinued before buying

    Apple haven't released anew Apple TV but are clearly pushing it with the recent tvOS update. An Appltv update must be imminent.

    Likewise airport hasn't been updated in a few years yet the new macs have even less ports and reliant on wireless connected services for example backups of the non replaceable ssd, software updates etc. Wireless remains an integral part of the experience and only airport does it seamlessly. I'd expect an imminent update either a basic unit with hdd and USB c or as a Mac mini with drive bays.

    Either way no point buying an airport now, wait for official news.

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