Apple abandons development of wireless routers

“Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter,” Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg.

“Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced,” Gurman reports. “Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry.”

“Apple currently sells three wireless routers, the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule,” Gurman reports. “Apple. “Exiting the router business could make Apple’s product ecosystem less sticky. Some features of the AirPort routers, including wireless music playback, require an Apple device like an iPhone or Mac computer. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wi-Fi router capabilities to be built into Apple’s Echo echo?

As we wrote in March:

Something along the lines of Amazon Echo is what Apple should have done if run by competent, forward-thinking management. When Apple finally does do their version of Amazon Echo (and they will get around to doing such a product eventually) they will rightly be called a follower. The company had all of the ingredients to make their own Echo, before Amazon, except for the vision, it seems.

And, as we wrote on June 15th:

There could be a psychological component to this that leads people use Alexa over Siri precisely because they know the Echo is there (it’s a physical object), but forget about Siri being everywhere, even on their wrists (because Siri is embedded inside devices that are “for other things” in the user’s mind (telling time, watching TV, computing, phone calls, etc.) and therefore “hidden” to the user. Hence, Siri gets forgotten and goes unused while people use Alexa…

Again: We believe people use Alexa because Amazon Echo is a physical manifestation of “her,” while forgetting about Siri even though she’s on their wrists at all times and/or in their iPhones and iPads because Siri is hidden inside objects whose primary function is something other than “personal assistant” in people’s minds (watch, TV, phone or tablet, as opposed to “Siri.”) Alexa is present thanks to the Amazon Echo. Siri is absent because she has no such counterpart; no physical manifestation.

Siri is a ghost. Alexa is that cool, fun, glowing tube right there on the counter.

Apple would do well to not discount the psychology behind why people use certain features, even though cold, hard logic tells them it’s a redundant and unnecessary product.

An “Apple Echo” device would sell in the millions of units per quarter and boost Siri usage immensely.

Apple’s Amazon Echo echo – September 26, 2016
Apple’s Amazon Echo rival said to include includes built-in cameras to read users’ emotions, recognize faces – September 23, 2016
Apple’s Siri-powered Amazon Echo-like device reportedly now in prototype testing – September 23, 2016
Why an ‘Apple Echo’ would be a hit – June 15, 2016
New Apple TV to take on Amazon’s Echo, source says – May 26, 2016
Apple preps Amazon Echo rival, opening up Siri – May 24, 2016
Apple should make a stationary voice command device like Amazon’s Echo – May 19, 2016
Google unveils its Amazon Echo knockoff called ‘Google Home’ – May 18, 2016
Where’s Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo? – March 31, 2016
Amazon Echo leads mindshare in smart home platform war – February 29, 2016
Why did Apple buy a startup whose tech can read emotions via facial recognition?/a> – January 7, 2016
Apple buys Emotient, maker of artificial-intelligence tech that reads emotion by analyzing facial expressions – January 7, 2016


        1. After reading the Wikipedia article on Airplay, it appears that the Airport device is not required for streaming via Airplay from your iPhone to an Airplay compliant speaker/stereo. If your stereo system is not compliant perhaps there is a compliant device that you can attach that will replace that function of the Airport devices.

    1. Apple is moving to a three product company…
      Apple Watch
      iPad (though iPad isn’t getting that much love either)

      Everything else is a late to market, lobotomized “also ran” or is likely to be discontinued in the next three to five years. And, and those that may survive past 2020 will be turned into “appliances”. I really have zero confidence that in 2021 we’ll be able to buy Macs from Apple.

      Once upon a time (well, actually, NOT that long ago) Apple had one of the cutting edge wireless routers. Apple was one of the first companies to ship 802.11n routers. It was a major step forward for Apple’s ecosystem. Up until 2013 Apple’s routers were some of the best (and occasionally some of the very best). I had read reviews in non pro Apple media that actually recommended Apple’s routers.

      Now, we’ll be stuck upgrading to other routers and extenders (Airport Express is still stuck in 802.11n — no 802.11ac which has been a fully approved/ratified standard since 2014 and has had chipsets shipping since 2011).

    1. With the revelation that Apple has been selling iPhone 7 in different component configurations for the same price, consumers totally unaware, was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’

      Cook needs to go, pronto!

      When he does, let’s celebrate his legacy:

      –Dumbing down software, FCP for one.

      –Killing software, Aperture for one.

      –Soldering boards in Mac Minis that are not upgradeable.

      –Removing ports from the MacBook and MacBook Pros while charging more.

      –Gutting Project Titan.

      –Eliminating the wireless router division that Steve once held up proclaiming in his magical style — “amazing.”

      –Dumbing down the GUI visuals beginning with iOS 7 with flat abstract icons that confused the user.

      Removing the headphone jack to FORCE third-party added expense solutions and additional charging.

      –Ramping up the planned OS obsolescence of Apple sturdy made products.

      –TOTAL NEGLECT of the Pro Computer market!!!

      I know I missed a lot, but you get the downward drift.

      They are building a new spaceship campus while eliminating products and divisions?

      I’ve lost faith, sorry …

  1. Apple is making it really difficult to remain in its ecosystem. I have been waiting for a USB3 equipped Time Capsule to replace my existing one; now, that’s obviously a third-party choice. Not good.

  2. This is pretty terrible news if true. I love airplay. Looks like it’s time to go buy a few more before they do t have them anymore. Can’t say I’m loving the new direction Apple is taking

  3. Airplay is not going anywhere. We will just have one less Airplay device. Back to My Mac is hosed though. The average user will have a challenge getting it working with most third party routers.

  4. Tim is quickly turning the keys to Apples future to others. Apple will soon make only fashion statements that you will pay for the name but not the innovation. No Tv or movie streaming service. That goes to a Netflix and Amazon. No more routers. That now goes to the new Google routers and possibly Amazon Echo. Google Tv will be out in Q1 2017. No need for lame 1080i Apple TV. Tim and his buddy Eddy have gutted this great company.

  5. Every company invests in new product research. Some products make it, some do not. A lot depends on products from other company’s. It’s good to have your own echo system, but at what cost. Market research is important to evaluate if your product is going to make a good build to sell ratio. Knowing when your product is not going to make the cut is key, all you’ve lost is the tax deductible research costs.

  6. Couple with the news that Eero now works seamlessly with Alexa (but no announcement on HomeKit), and while understandable, really seems like a problem. I’m particularly concerned about shared drives. Anyone got a solution?

  7. This would be unbelievable. It’s far too seamless to just eliminate. All the functionality I’d be losing would likely be yet another push toward competitors.

    Apple isn’t making displays anymore, but here are some third party ones.

    Apple isn’t making routers anymore, but here are some third party ones.

    Apple isn’t making computers anymore, but here are some ******* windows machines?

  8. Yet another Apple Product apple is forcing me Not to buy! First desk/laptops because of the insane prices, then Iphone 7 (and most likely all of them from now on, keep removing ports), I’ve been waiting for a new AirPort Extreme so I could use my old one in my garage as an extended so I have full 802.11ac coverage, but nope, I keep waiting for the new apple product, but it keeps arriving over priced with features removed, or is never going to arrive as in this case, even the atv4 remote absolutely sucks and I’m looking at the competition now, go ahead, remove the headphone jack from iPads and I’ll have absolutely no reason to buy Apple anything. It’s pretty sad, Apple has almost completely forced me to stop being a long time customer, just over the course of the last 1.3 years.

  9. Apple’s realizing it’s doing too much shit. Why the hell do they need to make wireless routers? It’s good they’re realizing that they’re over-extended. I’d rather have AirPort engineers working on improving wifi performance in Apple’s products themselves than selling a freaking router.

      1. Because AirPort engineers are humans with limited capacities. They need to focus. The vast majority of Apple consumers have shitty routers from Comcast and they don’t invest in this product. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re being asked to focus on an Echo competitor—a great way to have consumers rethink their $8/month router rental fee.

        1. So there’s no reason to have the best possible wireless SYSTEM where we have great, designed-in interoperability?

          And, it’s not an $8 a month ROUTER rental fee. It’s an $8 a month MODEM fee that almost always included a router. (Many ISPs like COMCAST will rent you a modem that does not include a router of any kind.) For those of us with intelligence we don’t use the ISP’s modem or router. We get a third party modem (often with much better specs) that’s just a modem and then the router of choice (often with better specs than the ISP’s modem/router combination).

        2. “For those of us with intelligence.”

          You are part of the problem. Elite, snobby professionals. The Apple I know has always been predominantly focused on the average customer. Pros were important, but secondary. The average person is not tech savvy, and they use shitty Comcast modem/routers. I applaud this move.

        3. I bought a third-party router and a third-party WiFi access point, but I am the first to say that an all-Apple solution would help a LOT of people.
          Setting these things up is a bad experience if you aren’t technically savvy. So much technology has terrible interfaces for configuration and lead people to make mistakes that leave things broken or insecure.

    1. I get the point and was wondering myself whether Apple are going away from the simple product model that Jobs started in 1997.
      I think Apple’s main problem is that they are trying to release too many products in the fall. They need to spread it out so that they can managed resources better. This will also provide much needed advertising during the months when the iPhone is mid cycle and getting jaded in the eyes of the stock market.
      So Mac Pros, iMacs, peripherals like the routers can all get released in Feb-June. Even AppleWatches would be better served being released earlier given how long it takes to get the new released shipped to the customer (my Wife is finally getting her Watch2 today).

      1. On the advertising front perhaps Apple could invest in ‘integrated’ ads where multiple Apple products working together create the experience rather than the single product CMs they seem bent on. Sometimes you don’t know you’re watching an Apple product ad.

  10. Losing that loving feeling for Apple with every move they make. AirPort Extreme base stations could have such potential with the right leadership to link all the Apple devices together on a local network level to mirror and speed up the iCloud functionality. Once I realized Apple had not and would not add AirPrint functionality to the AEx for their shared printers, I knew Apple was just out to screw us, as the protocol is a simple addition to Bonjour. In fact, it’s easy to install Avahi (Bonjour for open source) on a Linux box or Raspberry Pi and share printers via AirPrint, it’s automatic. Time Capsule integration with Time Machine is unprecedented in the PC world, but Apple will just throw that all away. Dumba$$es.

  11. This cannot be perceived as anything other than bad news by Apple fans. If Apple is working on an improved way to stream content around the house then they’ve allowed a very damaging leak to escape without the corresponding good news that they have a better replacement. They are mishandling the media badly with one screwup after another.

    If they have no replacement at all… Then I don’t know what to think.

    1. the other day when I talked about the Mac Pro issues you said for me to ‘calm down’ and
      ‘apple had the greatest team and knew what it was doing’ ” I quote and paste:

      ” Apple will be just fine. They’ve got a great future ahead of them … I saw the cheesegrater pic you posted several times but struggled to see much significance in it.” (note: the cheese grater is a Mac Pro, the last model 2010 that can have it’s GPU upgraded …

      .. My real message in all this is that everyone should maybe consider CALMING DOWN a bit. Yes, Apple is changing. But the world is not going to end. You’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. And Apple will be fine. They still have an executive team like no other.”

      and I said :
      “Wait until Apple does something to YOUR device… ”


  12. My main issue with this is that we know that third party manufacturers often handle security poorly.
    I have a Comcast router that can do wifi. However, it also sends out a guest wifi that any Comcast customer can join to. So if I use the private wifi network, how do I know that the guest network doesn’t provide a backdoor into mine.
    Apple handle security well and for that reason I have preferred to use their routers even though they are more expensive. They are also easier to troubleshoot when the network goes down.

  13. So much for the “ecosystem” that Steve Jobs worked so hard to build.

    It is hard to see right now exactly what the Apple strategy is moving forward, particularly in light of having to hedge against China possibly not coming through for them growth wise.

    One can only hope that they are paring back the product line in anticipation of something new to drive sales in the stores. The thousands of engineers at Apple HAVE to be working on something besides removing headphone jacks from iPhones and putting touchers on the MBP.

    As far as the the airport routers are concerned, I will personally miss airplay ability, but I think a lot of users are moving to bluetooth devices for playing content. I haven’t looked at the options that exist to replace airplay for my home audio system, but I may have to.

    Performance-wise, I don’t think Airport was anywhere near best in the industry anyway the last few years. I’ve got 4 Airports around my house (mainly for airplay capability), but despite all my efforts at adjusting settings, we still can’t get good wifi in some parts of the house. I was going to take a look at the Eero and Ubiquiti systems. I think that Apple may have given the profitable part of the market away already anyway due to their apathy and lack of updates.

    1. There’s no reason to stop using AirPlay. I have a Yamaha receiver that supports AirPlay. Setup was seamless, and I can play music through it from any of my Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, MacBook). Apple’s router was never required for this.
      And while Apple’s router/wireless base station was okay perhaps for an average consumer, I found the lack of features not to my liking. I have a NetGear router/wireless base station that let’s me set up multiple networks, prioritize specific network traffic, handle port forwarding, and let’s me attach storage than can be shared across the network with *all* devices, not just Apple’s.
      But then, I’m a technical type and have a decent understanding of home networks, which I imagine Apple’s “average” consumer does not, so features like that are wasted on the majority of Apple’s customers.

  14. Earlier this year I wanted to replace my still functioning but slow and old, iMac. Alas, I could not find an iMac that I thought was worth the money, and, Yes, I was and am willing to pay the Apple Tax. So, instead for much less money I pruchased a Thunderbolt SSD drive, which has speeded up my Mac and made is usable again.
    My next replacement item was to be my aging Airport Extreme which solved many connection problems in my home. I have been waiting for the replacement since the current ones are now an old design. I will not buy an orphan product – been there, done that – needed updates just don’t happen.
    So, It would appear that my next major computer-type device (tablet, phone, laptop, desktop, router, etc.) may not be Apple. The ECOSYSTEM HAS NOW BEEN CRACKED!

  15. Sent to Tim Cook: No More Time Capsule, No More Cinema Display?

    Hi Tim,

    Just want to voice my concern as a customer about the (rumored) loss of these critical pieces of the Apple ecosystem. A big part of the reason I loved Apple was because they saved me from having to deal with the ugliness, interface problems, poor user design and lousy customer service and tech support of other companies. Everything just worked and it worked together, effortlessly. Apple also recognized the simple aesthetic beauty and elegance of having only beautifully designed Apple products sitting on your desk. If that’s going away it would be a tragic reversal of progress.

    I thought Apple might be headed in the other direction – some kind of gorgeous enveloping, giant curved display for the desktop, that alleviates the need for daisy-chaining even Apple displays. But if that vision doesn’t exist, and I have to start daisy-chaining black plastic third-party monitors to my beautiful iMac, it would make me most sad.

    For the first time in over fifteen years I am starting to think about buying non-Apple products.

    Hope this is helpful perspective from a long-time Apple customer who spends a lot of money on Apple products.

    Kind regards,

    Dan Pallotta

  16. So, let me get this straight.

    Apple will sell me a fancy watchband for the Apple Watch I don’t have and really don’t want at this point. But, they won’t sell me a modern Apple router to replace the older Apple router I have.

  17. Wow. At one time the entire reason for Apple was that its all connected and it just works. Computing (abeit expensive) for the masses.

    I guess the key word here is “computing” which no longer seems apropos. However, I would argue that the internet of things and the smart home are really more computing infrastructure than consumer based. So if that’s true, and routers being the base infrastructure that enables the communications required for those two environments, that Apple has abandoned those markets?

    OR, it’s just a premature leak and Apple will be replacing explicit “routing” with some kind of mesh technology that renders point to point routing obsolete (I can hope).

    In the end though, even if not the fastest, Apple routers are/were the easiest way to set up and manage a home or small business net. If anyone has a replacement for that piece of the puzzle while were waiting for IoT, I’m all ears.

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