Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers – Bloomberg

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.

Frankly, it’s about time. They’ve been limping along, unable to keep up with new technology. I used to really like Apple’s AirPort hardware, but somewhere in the past few years, it started to suck. They never updated the AirPort Express for 802.11ac, making their hardware useless in any but the smallest setups.

This said, the AirPort Express is still a useful tool for people who want to stream music using AirPlay. I’d recommend buying one or two if you use it for that. I’m not aware of any other device – other than the Apple TV – that works like this. Granted, AirPlay compatible amplifiers, receivers, and speakers, are now fairly common, but you may have hardware that doesn’t support AirPlay that you’d like to use for streaming.

No, no more Apple displays, no more routers, what’s next in low-hanging fruit they can eliminate? Pro-level desktop computers?

Update: I’ve had a few questions about which routers one should be using. The high-end routers from just about any major company are excellent, but if you’re in a situation where you need good coverage, you might want to look into the Netgear Orbi mesh wifi system. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) It’s pretty expensive, but I plan to buy things when it comes out in the UK in early December. Reviews are very positive, and it seems to provide good coverage in large buildings, such as my house. I’ll certainly write about this when I get it.

Source: Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers – Bloomberg

68 thoughts on “Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers – Bloomberg

    • I just added an update to the post above. I’m going to get one of these Netgear Orbi mesh wifi systems.

    • I just added an update to the post above. I’m going to get one of these Netgear Orbi mesh wifi systems.

  1. Agree with your assessment Kirk. It torques me that now my $300 Time Capsule is ALSO going to be another waste of money. I wish Elon Musk would come up with a third or fourth insanely great product and add ‘they just work’ computers to the Tesla brand!

    • oops Tesla the green fraud. ‘Please give us your easy (printed digits) money and we will burn the money’; #zerocarbon

  2. Agree with your assessment Kirk. It torques me that now my $300 Time Capsule is ALSO going to be another waste of money. I wish Elon Musk would come up with a third or fourth insanely great product and add ‘they just work’ computers to the Tesla brand!

    • oops Tesla the green fraud. ‘Please give us your easy (printed digits) money and we will burn the money’; #zerocarbon

  3. I’m fine with the routers, but what about time capsule? It is an important piece of my Apple setup at home, and I don’t want to do it with an external USB drive connected to my Mac.
    Yes there are NAS that can act as time capsule, but it is unofficial and in the past, it often was broken after OS X updates.

    • Most routers today have USB plugs, so you can connect a drive to one. I’m not sure, however, if drives connected like that work with Time Machine.

  4. I’m fine with the routers, but what about time capsule? It is an important piece of my Apple setup at home, and I don’t want to do it with an external USB drive connected to my Mac.
    Yes there are NAS that can act as time capsule, but it is unofficial and in the past, it often was broken after OS X updates.

    • Most routers today have USB plugs, so you can connect a drive to one. I’m not sure, however, if drives connected like that work with Time Machine.

  5. My Airport Express (bedroom) runs ethernet to my iSmartAlarm and Olive One music server. The Living Room Express runs ethernet to my Philips Hue lighting and hard wires my Apple TV4 as well but not needed per say. The Game room Express adds music via airplay when I shoot pool. Not everything is wireless! I am stuck with Apples slow but excellent ecosystem. I just bought this Apple – Geek Squad Certified Refurbished Extreme Wireless Base Station – White for $109. My Extreme wireless N has served well for 7 years! Hope the new one lasts until 2023. My system is way more complicated than just getting a new Router. I need 2 or 3 slave routers with duo ethernet ports & airplay, who else is making that?

    • I’ve got several devices connected via Ethernet over powerline adapters. It’s much better, since it doesn’t depend on a router.

  6. My Airport Express (bedroom) runs ethernet to my iSmartAlarm and Olive One music server. The Living Room Express runs ethernet to my Philips Hue lighting and hard wires my Apple TV4 as well but not needed per say. The Game room Express adds music via airplay when I shoot pool. Not everything is wireless! I am stuck with Apples slow but excellent ecosystem. I just bought this Apple – Geek Squad Certified Refurbished Extreme Wireless Base Station – White for $109. My Extreme wireless N has served well for 7 years! Hope the new one lasts until 2023. My system is way more complicated than just getting a new Router. I need 2 or 3 slave routers with duo ethernet ports & airplay, who else is making that?

    • I’ve got several devices connected via Ethernet over powerline adapters. It’s much better, since it doesn’t depend on a router.

  7. I fast fiber (500) with ethernet connection, but ipad/iphone will not go faster than 40/60max (www.fast.com). Wireless speed has its limitation.

  8. I fast fiber (500) with ethernet connection, but ipad/iphone will not go faster than 40/60max (www.fast.com). Wireless speed has its limitation.

  9. I bought a ‘Sabrent Wi-Fi Audio Receiver’ from Amazon for about $20 US – much cheaper than an AirPort Express for streaming audio. Works great! Powered by USB, outputs to a headphone jack, you could set up AirPlay in your car.

  10. I bought a ‘Sabrent Wi-Fi Audio Receiver’ from Amazon for about $20 US – much cheaper than an AirPort Express for streaming audio. Works great! Powered by USB, outputs to a headphone jack, you could set up AirPlay in your car.

    • There are a number of small AirPlay receivers like this, but they don’t seem very reliable. Personally, I use AirPlay over ethernet now, connecting my amps with powerline adapters. It’s much more reliable than AirPlay over wifi (not Apple’s fault, but the fault of amps with inadequate wifi hardware).

    • There are a number of small AirPlay receivers like this, but they don’t seem very reliable. Personally, I use AirPlay over ethernet now, connecting my amps with powerline adapters. It’s much more reliable than AirPlay over wifi (not Apple’s fault, but the fault of amps with inadequate wifi hardware).

  11. Anecdote (perhaps not such an uncommon experience): Within the last year, both my 3 year old Airport Express and my last generation Apple TV “just stopped working” meaning that I could no longer connect to them with my other up to date Mac devices. I went as far as to mail the Apple TV to Cupertino to have them check out why it was “bricked”? As you might imagine they couldn’t / wouldn’t do anything. So as far as I’m concerned, I would not be likely to invest in any future versions of these peripherals. I continue to be very happy with my iMac, iPhone, and iPad, though, which is obviously where the focus is.

  12. Anecdote (perhaps not such an uncommon experience): Within the last year, both my 3 year old Airport Express and my last generation Apple TV “just stopped working” meaning that I could no longer connect to them with my other up to date Mac devices. I went as far as to mail the Apple TV to Cupertino to have them check out why it was “bricked”? As you might imagine they couldn’t / wouldn’t do anything. So as far as I’m concerned, I would not be likely to invest in any future versions of these peripherals. I continue to be very happy with my iMac, iPhone, and iPad, though, which is obviously where the focus is.

  13. Yes, apple are dropping a lot of product. And the updates on what’s left are minimal.
    Where are the great new innovative projects Tim, Phil n Jon promised?

    I used to look forward to hearing about what new apple thing I could incorporate into my setup. But things tailed off…

    Once the overpriced screens stopped coming I looked elsewhere and found great screens, better, cheaper. Same for my overpriced desktop. Same for TV streaming, a-tv and overpriced airplay is bottom of the pile, glitchy to begin with, still is, and one of the most over priced ithings. The overpriced airports never worked consistently, looked else where, got cheaper, stronger signalled alternative immediately.

    I loved the idea I was being sold, that of restricted features making for a more consistent experience, but apple have not and could not back that up with actual products or experience.

    The arguments for dropping the headphone jack are completely made up drivel.

    Now the lovely overpriced mbp is becoming toy-i-fied by shrinking the ports by half, and adding (a touch ‘strip’???) what can only be described as a gimmick that will surely, hope upon hope, be dropped on the next iteration.

    The overpriced phone’s up there. Very good.

    The overpriced pad, good.

    overpriced Headphones, nope.

    overpriced Beats, nope.

    overpriced Watch, nope.

    The app store is a license to rip off every budding developer out. An ugly sight.

    There are choices, so when apple disappoint, look elsewhere.

    If this is ‘innovation my ass’, I would hate to see stagnation….

  14. Yes, apple are dropping a lot of product. And the updates on what’s left are minimal.
    Where are the great new innovative projects Tim, Phil n Jon promised?

    I used to look forward to hearing about what new apple thing I could incorporate into my setup. But things tailed off…

    Once the overpriced screens stopped coming I looked elsewhere and found great screens, better, cheaper. Same for my overpriced desktop. Same for TV streaming, a-tv and overpriced airplay is bottom of the pile, glitchy to begin with, still is, and one of the most over priced ithings. The overpriced airports never worked consistently, looked else where, got cheaper, stronger signalled alternative immediately.

    I loved the idea I was being sold, that of restricted features making for a more consistent experience, but apple have not and could not back that up with actual products or experience.

    The arguments for dropping the headphone jack are completely made up drivel.

    Now the lovely overpriced mbp is becoming toy-i-fied by shrinking the ports by half, and adding (a touch ‘strip’???) what can only be described as a gimmick that will surely, hope upon hope, be dropped on the next iteration.

    The overpriced phone’s up there. Very good.

    The overpriced pad, good.

    overpriced Headphones, nope.

    overpriced Beats, nope.

    overpriced Watch, nope.

    The app store is a license to rip off every budding developer out. An ugly sight.

    There are choices, so when apple disappoint, look elsewhere.

    If this is ‘innovation my ass’, I would hate to see stagnation….

  15. Likely 90% of users only have “the smallest setups”, and speaking for myself 802.11ac is overkill — 802.11n is more than fast enough. No non-Apple wireless setup has ever been close to seamless and trouble free for me, and I am streaming music in my house most of the time (including while I sleep). I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss AirPlay. If “wireless is the future”, Apple just turned their back on it.

    • Perhaps for most users, but if you ever need to transfer files over a network, you’ll quickly find that n isn’t that fast. I have an ac access point – not a router – and I get 30 – 60 MB/sec transferring files from my iMac to my Mac mini server. With Apple’s ac router (the AirPort Extreme), I can’t get more than around 8 MB/Sec, or n speeds. Even though it’s supposed to be fast, it never stays fast; for some reason, it makes all my devices connect at n speeds instead of ac speeds. I gave up on it a while ago because it’s unreliable.

      • Actually I transfer multiple 500Mb – 1Gb files almost every day, and it’s not that terrible for me. I usually just switch the transfer to the background and do something else in the meantime. Doesn’t really bother me. Your mileage may vary of course. It’s unreliability that I fear from non-Apple WiFi gear, though, given my experience. But please tell me there is something out there that can replace AirPlay (and don’t say Bluetooth, as my experience with that is far worse than non-Apple WiFi gear).

        • Those are small files, relatively.

          Airplay does not require an Apple router. However, if you’re asking because you use an AirPort Express as an AirPlay receiver, there are also other devices that can handle that.

          • If I were transferring files larger than that on a regular basis, I wouldn’t use wireless at all; both my office and my home are wired with Cat 5e Ethernet. Yes, I’m using AirPorts Express as AirPlay receivers because they are ridiculously convenient and totally speaker-agnostic. What devices would you recommend as alternatives?

            • I cannot wire my house with Ethernet.

              I have two Yamaha receivers that I use with AirPlay. There are also plenty of standalone speakers that support it.

            • Since I can’t reply any deeper on the comment chain, I’ll do so here. Given that Apple is stopping production on AirPort, wouldn’t that sound a probable death knell for AirPlay too? If I were a third-party manufacturer of audio equipment I know I’d be looking for alternatives. Is Chromecast Audio any good? (Also, SneakerNet still works fine for me. 🙂

  16. Likely 90% of users only have “the smallest setups”, and speaking for myself 802.11ac is overkill — 802.11n is more than fast enough. No non-Apple wireless setup has ever been close to seamless and trouble free for me, and I am streaming music in my house most of the time (including while I sleep). I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss AirPlay. If “wireless is the future”, Apple just turned their back on it.

    • Perhaps for most users, but if you ever need to transfer files over a network, you’ll quickly find that n isn’t that fast. I have an ac access point – not a router – and I get 30 – 60 MB/sec transferring files from my iMac to my Mac mini server. With Apple’s ac router (the AirPort Extreme), I can’t get more than around 8 MB/Sec, or n speeds. Even though it’s supposed to be fast, it never stays fast; for some reason, it makes all my devices connect at n speeds instead of ac speeds. I gave up on it a while ago because it’s unreliable.

      • Actually I transfer multiple 500Mb – 1Gb files almost every day, and it’s not that terrible for me. I usually just switch the transfer to the background and do something else in the meantime. Doesn’t really bother me. Your mileage may vary of course. It’s unreliability that I fear from non-Apple WiFi gear, though, given my experience. But please tell me there is something out there that can replace AirPlay (and don’t say Bluetooth, as my experience with that is far worse than non-Apple WiFi gear).

        • Those are small files, relatively.

          Airplay does not require an Apple router. However, if you’re asking because you use an AirPort Express as an AirPlay receiver, there are also other devices that can handle that.

          • If I were transferring files larger than that on a regular basis, I wouldn’t use wireless at all; both my office and my home are wired with Cat 5e Ethernet. Yes, I’m using AirPorts Express as AirPlay receivers because they are ridiculously convenient and totally speaker-agnostic. What devices would you recommend as alternatives?

            • I cannot wire my house with Ethernet.

              I have two Yamaha receivers that I use with AirPlay. There are also plenty of standalone speakers that support it.

            • Since I can’t reply any deeper on the comment chain, I’ll do so here. Given that Apple is stopping production on AirPort, wouldn’t that sound a probable death knell for AirPlay too? If I were a third-party manufacturer of audio equipment I know I’d be looking for alternatives. Is Chromecast Audio any good? (Also, SneakerNet still works fine for me. 🙂

  17. Hi Kirk, my BT Home Hub 5 is driving me nuts (and a lot of other people, if the forums are a reliable guide). Will be interested to see you review of the Orbi when you get to it. Thanks!

    I guess one barrier for many people will be the price, which is eye-watering compared to most products in this space. Is it due to the underlying technology cost or is it something that will inevitably reduce (say by 50%) once the newness has worn off?

    Cheers

    • Sorry I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. I actually forgot; it works pretty much perfectly. Yes, it is expensive, but I live in a large house and I was having trouble covering the entire house before. Now, coverage is excellent everywhere in the house.

  18. Hi Kirk, my BT Home Hub 5 is driving me nuts (and a lot of other people, if the forums are a reliable guide). Will be interested to see you review of the Orbi when you get to it. Thanks!

    I guess one barrier for many people will be the price, which is eye-watering compared to most products in this space. Is it due to the underlying technology cost or is it something that will inevitably reduce (say by 50%) once the newness has worn off?

    Cheers

    • Sorry I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. I actually forgot; it works pretty much perfectly. Yes, it is expensive, but I live in a large house and I was having trouble covering the entire house before. Now, coverage is excellent everywhere in the house.

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