Apple recently announced that it will seize production of its AirPort WiFi routers. The announcement came after months of rumours and blow whispers and it seems to have sparked a public outcry. The first predictions estimate that such a decision is going to have severe implications on Apple’s ecosystem and consequently on the company’s revenue network.
For those of you who may not be as familiar with the products of interest, we’re talking about the Cupertino’s giant’s exclusive routers which come in three versions – the AirPort Extreme, the best of the three that can work in surprisingly far distances, the AirPort Express, which is a smaller and more affordable alternative to the Extreme and the AirPort Time Capsule which is meant to store files.
Apple’s announcement came on Thursday and according to it, all existing routers will still be available until all stock is sold. You can find the Extreme at $199, the second for $99 and the Time Capsule for $299, if you’re looking to buy the 2TB version. So basically, it’s the manufacturing process that was discontinued.
An Apple spokesperson responded to an email inquire sent from PCMag saying: “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”.
In the company’s defence, there has been a firm reassurance that those routers account only for a slim part of its revenue and they won’t have a noticeable impact on the company itself – we tend to disagree on this one, but we’ll get on that later. Other reports were published throughout last year, explaining how and why the tech giant has stopped redesigning that particular line, while it also reassigned all of the employees on that department to different posts.
Now, Apple may say that discontinuing production will practically go unnoticed, but in reality the impact is inevitable primarily because removing one family of devices affects the entire ecosystem. For instance, removing the Time Capsule will clearly make backing up your Mac considerably harder, or at the very least inconvenient.
Furthermore, instead of stop making routers all at once, it would be a clever alternative to embody their features to other existing products such as the Apple TV. Imagine if you could get an Apple TV with a Time Capsule going hand-in-hand. Neat, right?
In any case, since we won’t be seeing any renewed AirPort routers, we may as well check what’s the best next option. The official apple website provides a few guidelines on what to look for and – surprise surprise – they want you to look for the premium stuff.
Basically, the support article advises customers to get a router that offers:
“simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), which allows the router to transmit over both frequencies at the same time, so no matter which band your wireless devices use, they automatically connect to the best available band for the fastest possible performance”
“MIMO or MU-MIMO, which can offer improved performance when many devices use your Wi-Fi network simultaneously, you want to take full advantage of a high-speed Internet connection, or you need Wi-Fi coverage over a larger area”
And a WPA 2 encryption protocol which is pretty much a standard feature since it’s the safest security protocol found in commercial devices.
Provided all the above, you may want to check out something like the ‘Google WiFi’ or the ‘Asus RT-AC3200’. Both go for about $250-$280 and have similar features. The only two differences worth mentioning is that Google’s router has a wider range while Asus’ router has a USB port that is compatible with Time Machine as well.
What or your thoughts on Apple’s decision? Do you know of any better alternatives for a WiFi router? Let us know in the comments below