Requiem for the AirPort base station: A testament to everything Apple was and isn’t anymore

“Somewhere in my basement I have an original graphite AirPort Base Station,” Michael Simon writes for Macworld. “It’s one of the few non-working Apple products I couldn’t bring myself to recycle, and the reason is two-fold. One, it’s one of the Apple’s best designs. In an age where routers were ugly boxes with giant antennas, Apple’s curved base station really did look like a UFO. Even after it stopped working, I kept it on my shelf for years.”

MacDailyNews Take: Ditto.

“The other reason is its history,” Simon writes. “Even more than the iPhone, iMac, iPad, and iPod, the AirPort Base Station is, to me, the greatest example of Steve Jobs’ genius.”

“The impact the original AirPort had on the industry was immediate and massive, at least as great as the iBook itself,” Simon writes. “And now it’s dead. And we’ll probably never see another product like it from Apple ever again.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: R.I.P, AirPort.

We were at that Macworld NY keynote address in 1999 in the Javits Center and, boy, was it electric!

Watch for Phil Schiller jumping with an iBook from a pretty decent height around the 1:10:00 mark:

Interns: TTK!

TGIF! Prost, everyone! 🍻

Apple makes yet another short-sighted decision: Apple has discontinued a product that it should have made a cornerstone of its home automation and entertainment ecosystem – April 27, 2018
Watch Steve Jobs passionately defend his commitment to Apple in 1997 – April 27, 2018
Apple’s decision to discontinue AirPort products is the wrong decision at the wrong time – April 27, 2018
Apple pulls plug on AirPort Wi-Fi router business – April 26, 2018

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Doug” for the heads up.]


    1. Yup. The sad part is that Apple has the money to “buy” the engineers and other staff to support a “WiFi Division.”

      Many other companies would be proud to have those products in their lineup.

      Rather than fund it or sell it off in some way, Apple just let it wither and die.

      That means top management has clue of what the word “ecosystem” refers to.

    2. You say it best, Peter. For the life of me I simply cannot understand why this great massive company of all time cannot update Macs yearly, sell the best routers and computer displays??? Sad …🙁

    3. Perhaps Apple is not giving sufficient attention to what peterblood71 cares about most, but that is not grounds to indict Apple, as a whole.

      Can Apple do better? Certainly. Is the current upswell of pessimism and FUD warranted? I think not.

      More bellyaching from a person who used to post some interesting stuff on occasion.

      1. “Perhaps Apple is not giving sufficient attention to what peterblood71 cares about most, but that is not grounds to indict Apple, as a whole.”

        Peterblood71, Davewrite, myself and dozens of others have been bellyaching for YEARS. Disingenuous to make this personal and all about one person. And yes, Apple deserves a great big indictment “as a whole”, something fanboys are incapable of understanding…

      2. It’s symptomatic of a larger problem at Apple. And it’s not just Mac Pro’s that are a problem but MBP’s and Mac Mini’s. The Mac line is languishing and the Mac was and really still is the foundation at Apple. Things like Siri are also suffering – you’ve seen the list of items here. So in those terms I don’t think you can state the problems too strongly. The current upswell of pessimism and FUD are certainly warranted. I was foolish to have denied the symptoms for too long.

    1. … all – or nearly all – its competitors, is still growing its computer business. True, one of the biggest guys on the block isn’t growing FAST, but it IS growing. Unlike the competition, which is slowly shrinking.
      My wife just bought my wife just replaced her 2012 iMac. The Apple Store was full of customers! What more do you want?

        1. individual pc companies often do as they play poker with each other, I remember when Acer was growing at a massive rate compared to Apple and HP has or Lenovo at times but overall the PC market has grown slower than the Mac almost every year in recent times or indeed its actually shrunk. That however is no answer to why Apple is so keen to neglect this market when despite its lack of commitment and hardly exciting products of late it still, despite all the odds is doing pretty well compared to the competition especially in respect of profit.

          There really does need to be a shake up at the top of Apple and some sign of Cook passing on the baton he did his safety first job for 5 years now its time for a serious injection of focus and imagination from someone else before Apple becomes just another boring company.

        2. PC’s will always grow because:
          – It’s cheap, so businesses will always buy them. You go into a business, Dr’s office, bank, accountant, what’s in there? A PC.
          – It’s cheap, and there are a lot of consumers that buy cheap shit because a) honestly can’t afford the better stuff, or b) don’t want to spend a lot for a better product, or c) they don’t realize what a better computer is.

      1. The PC Workstation market is one truly bright spot that’s going gangbusters thanks to Apple’s mind-numbingly ridiculous gutting of the Mac Pro, not to mention the interminably & unforgivable late Mac Pro updating that wouldn’t happen at the crappiest of PC makers.

        Companies respond to customers more if their bottom line needs every last $ drop so we see the downside of a company like Apple that has way too much money in the vault. They rest a lot more on their laurels or fat rich asses.

  1. They should have mentioned AmpliFi and Ubiquti. Ubiquiti was founded by the guys that did the first AirPort. They have a consumer company called AmpliFi, which ships a mesh router that in many ways embodies the AirPort spirit including a Time Capsule foot print with a brilliant graphic interface.

  2. I started out with an Airport base station a long time ago. Then to the Airport Extreme, the white Mac Mini-like box. I do not even remember when I bought it, perhaps a good 10 years or so? It has been working so well, and literally flawless, latching on to 5GHz all the time with no downtime. I lease an internet modem from my carrier SP that also has a router function (which is supposed to be excellent, they say), but I still override it without thinking, and connect the venerable Airport Extreme. Friends push me to buy the latest and greatest routers but I have no interest. Router is a finicky device and I need the stability, speed and range. Until I may feel a significant performance difference, which I may never, I see no reason to replace it. That round green light always warmly looking after me. So, what’s going on Apple?

    1. I started with the 1st gen Express (which Apple quit allowing use even just for AirTunes). Got my son a second gen Express which he still uses as an endpoint for a networked TV.

      Bought a 4th gen Extreme that I used for years and sold it to a buddy (who still uses it!) after I got a 5th gen.

      Been using the 5th gen even after moving to a huge house with a single Express mainly for AirTunes. Bought another Express to use as a bridge to a switch recently for the game room.

      Decided since Apple was going to quit making the Express I better run get one for an area I wanted music (I use Roon/Tidal) then realized for another $100 I could get a new Extreme, move the old Extreme to the game room, get rid of the switch and use the freed up Express in the other music location.

      Set that up this morning and throughput is faster than ever.

      Mesh? We don’t need no stinking mesh….

  3. And look at SJ in 1999 (in the video clip of a keynote address posted, courtesy by MDN)! It’s almost 20 yers ago, folks! He looks so proud and passionate about the products he was introducing. The way he spoke showed everything he wanted to say was in his head. He seldom needed scripts. Everything is in his head as he knew what he was talking about. Cook is one of the most boring presenter. He apparently practices but still too frequently looks down the script screens, which is making the keynote even more boring with no heart in it.
    SJ was quite a showman too.
    End of the era, and I do lament the loss of good old days….

    1. Steve is clearly passionate what he is talking about and has it inside him – cold. But do not fool yourself. He would work on his presentations and rehearse them for days. Drove the people supporting him crazy.
      It was all about clearly communicating is ideas with emotional resonance.
      Tom does not share that ability or personality.

  4. Come on. It’s a commodity product that everyone else has improved to match Apple’s quality. This Apple doesn’t need to make routers to make their computers or networks work.

    Time to move along.

    1. Higo, if a wireless router is a commodity, they why is the performance so vastly different from building to building? Why is the interface for management so convoluted for some products, and simple for others?

      Given that Apple now relies heavily on WiFi performance for all its products, you would think Apple would want home networking to be reliable and straightforward. No, the idiots running Apple are now taking that for granted. It takes work to be a better product than the “commodity” competition, and Apple isn’t willing to put in the effort anymore. Apple wants primarily to sell 3rd party iOS apps. The rest of the company is rotting.

      1. So true. “Commodities” are items that the user cannot live without. Apple once made such things and let the consumer enjoy premium reliability versatility and value. Then Cook took a turn.

        If Apple wants to avoid all products without an App Store or subscription attached, then they might as well rename the company Death Star. The personal freedom of the Mac is actively being killed so Timmy can sell thin clients to IBM and iOS apps and emojis to consumers. Thanks for nothing Cook.

    2. Computers are commodity. Why are Macs different. Phones are commodities, why sweat the details on an iPhone. Web services are commodities, why sweat the details on iCloud and the ecosystem. Music players? Media boxes? Watches?

      Apple makes commodities special.

      When technical things do not work, it’s a hassle for techies. It’s a disaster for non technical people. Ease-of-use is more relevant than ever.

    3. Which other router matches Apple’s AirPort Extreme on all fronts? I’ve been looking. I haven’t found one. Tempted to go buy a couple Airport Extremes and just put them away until the current one croaks.

      1. If you just look at the Extreme, I think the AmpliFi Router is better, since you can add (and should buy it with) Mesh Points. It’s iOS app has more control feature useful for family.
        If you are looking for a TimeCapsule, you are out of options. Buy an additional NAS.
        There nothing quite like an AirPort Express. I use Airplay. Alas, they took the Airport Express AirPlay2 out of the current beta! I have a few extra in the house, since I replaced my AirPort network (TimeCapsule and a number of AirPort Exresses) and replaced it with an AmpliFi HD mesh. I still have a few older Express employed purely for AirPlay. BTW, the Gen 1 from Steve’s time has the least jitter and is tied to my PeachTree DAC amp via TosLink.
        I have two HomePods and the delayed Stereo functionality and limited Siri is a real fiasco. Steve would have had a hemorrhage.

    4. whiners complained when apple dropped the apple dot matrix printer, seriously, complained apple ignores the business user (accounting printouts, mailing labels, etc etc)

      1. Yes, we complained about those losses, and what happened as a clear & direct consequence is that our workplaces went from being a 50%-50% heterogeneous mix of Macs & Windows working together … to now being 99% homogeneous Windows with the occasional Mac Pro over in a corner.

    5. You’re probably right. As long as Apple is willing to directly support some other reliable router then I don’t care if they’re giving up on routers. I suppose Apple will replace Time Capsules or Airport Extremes with some expensive product that has to be replaced every couple of years.

      It’s just that I’ve been using reliable Apple routers for so many years I’ve grown familiar and attached to Airport Utility. You’re right. I should just move along. Things change and I need to adapt.

    1. The current team is highly competent. But they are too risk averse and there is not enough conflict about the product vision. Edgy vision create disagreement.

      Steve had guts and did not have the fear of failure. When things did not work the first time, he kept at it driving improvement. When they did work, he still drove improvement.

      When stuff was goofed up, he kicked ass and was not kind. He did that for his customers, who became fans.

      “Don’t ship shit!”

      And Steve had the big vision of “what it all means.” This most important thing is kind of missing I think. They seem a little bit caught up in how they good they are,

  5. Maybe it’s just that their past designs were so good, and current stuff works so well (including Time Capsule base station), I have had zero interest in their updated hardware for years, now. Removing ports and jacks and fast Touch ID, it’s not worth paying for less functionality and needless complexity. Sorry.

    1. You point out another feature of Apple product. Due to quality design and build it has a much longer lifecycle. Plus Apple maintains support. 4 year old iPhone get the latest OS. Not happening on Android.
      My MacBook Air is 7 years old (upgraded drive and BTLE/WiFi card,) my MacBook Pro Retina is 6 years old (ditto,) my Mac Pro is 6 years old (heavily upgraded.) But the upgrades are due to the type of user I am. I want lots of space, Watch unlock etc. Most people would be happy with their system for years in stock form.

  6. I think the key concern of Apple customers and especially fan-boys is that they lose their lead and become average.
    The MacBook keyboard issue is a poignant example. The Mac Server deprecation is another (a disaster for many schools.) And here we talk about networking infrastructure.
    We don’t want them. to become the next IBM, HP, or DEC.

  7. When Steve announced that he was changing the name from Apple Computer to Apple, I said to myself, “Why? Isn’t an iPhone a computer?”

    Does anyone know if that name change may have had anything to do with the seemingly aimless decisions we have seen since Steve’s death? Is it possible that this recent and current “roadmap” for which we all blame Tim was/is actually what was laid out by Steve? Just asking, I don’t think so, just looking for a sensible explanation in the midst of a sea of bad decisions vs intentional trend… so why the name change really?

    1. We can only guess what’s in the dead man’s mind. But he may have envisaged becoming another Sony like entity with more expanded consumer products such as iPod (at the time) and the whole host of others, but never forgetting the roots (computers and peripherals). One thing he probably never thought of was that Apple today is no longer a computer only company all right but definitely a one pony trick “phone company”. The current management does not seem to have other consumer gadget other than the iPhone…..

      BTW, one of the other strengths of the AirPort line of routers was their true plug and play feature. You just plug it in, and forget it, true to Mac’s traditional theme.

  8. I think they (Apple leadership) are fat, lazy and mailing it in.
    The company that made the Airport, the iPod, the iMac, the MacPro workstation, OSX, and the early generations of iOS are gone elsewhere or retired. That was a small lean company and it was hungry and ran like someone was chasing them with a gun. Apple today is huge, immobile, directionless and chasing innovations pioneered elsewhere.

    Not innovation- imitation & iteration. Just like Microsoft under Ballmer.

    The Bozos, hangers on and overhead remain.

    Somebody had to say it.

  9. Steve Jobs was about one thing, making great products for Apple customers.

    “You’ve got to start with the customers experience and work back to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and then try to figure out where you’re going to sell it.” Steve Jobs

    1. interestingly enough.. the ipod was developed the other way around…
      it was the advent of a miniture hard disk that led to the thought.. a least that is what is written the the Jobs Book.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.