It’s Shortsighted for Apple to Discontinue AirPort Products

Short sighted sign.

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week of April 23rd
Amazon’s Obsession

Smart speakers are growing in popularity, according to Business Insider. They’re now in 20 percent of all homes. And yet, it’s been widely reported that Apple’s HomePod isn’t selling all that well. “Apple cuts HomePod orders by more than half.” This suggests that Amazon is doing a more convincing job than Apple at developing customer-focused home AIs.

Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo
Amazon’s Alexa beat out Apple’s HomeKit as Jeff Gamet’s smart home controller

Another article, also by Luke Dormehl at Cult of Mac argues this point exactly. “Amazon is (apparently) doing more than Apple to improve society.

One can almost begin to see a pattern here. Apple has a different vision than Amazon. Amazon’s vision emerges victorious because customers are ignoring Apple’s low-key emphasis on privacy and security. Without a clear home strategy on privacy, Amazon customers are opting for the coolness and convenience of Echo/Alexa products. Buoyed by customer embrace, Amazon keeps rolling out new variants.

[Amazon’s New Echo Dot Kids Edition Could be Your Child’s Best Friend ]

On the entertainment side, Amazon is folding its Fire TV into its own branded 4K/UHD TV sets. Its just seems like Amazon is unstoppable in its efforts to psychologically overwhelm consumers and rope them into a different, more compelling ecosystem.

[Will Amazon’s Fire TV Edition Do What Apple Could Not? ]

And now we have some additional whetting of the appetite. “Amazon is teasing a mysterious new device called the Fire TV Cube on its website.” It’s the Amazon version of Apple’s “Oh, one more thing.”

Clearly, Amazon is obsessed with getting into our homes (and cars) by any means possible while Apple stands back and claims no interest in our personal affairs. Without a compelling counter. Here’s a good explanation that puts the icing on this segment’s cake.

That about sums it up. Pretty soon, little, friendly Amazon robots will be wandering around our homes, peering into everything. (“Need more condoms?”)

[Amazon’s Vesta Project Means it’s Time For Apple to Step Up its Robot Game ]

All this is happening like a giant avalanche. It can’t be stopped. Few customers seem to have developed home security policies that will negate the growth of these products. The final question: What can Apple do about it before Amazon makes products from Apple irrelevant as we get deeper into the 21st century?

The beachhead is being secured by Amazon. Is it time to fight back yet?

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

21 thoughts on “It’s Shortsighted for Apple to Discontinue AirPort Products

  • AirPorts have been my go-to APs since the beginning, and I’ve had a largely positive experience with them. The Time Capsule has been a great “fire and forget” wireless backup solution which has averted data loss on multiple occasions and also enabled recovery after problematic OS upgrades.

    I have tried a bunch of APs and none have worked as well, but now I’m interested in suggestions for superior APs as well as an easy to use, reliable, wireless, and fully compatible Time Machine solution.

    1. The printers did not have the same differentiation that Apple’s network devices have. Not at all, and that’s the reason why this move is a mistake.

  • I look at the smart speakers, and smart appliances, and smart houses, and Amazon having the ability to go into your house to deliver things, and the upcoming personal robots that will tell the mothership your every wish, and preference, and move, and I keep wondering: Am I the ONLY person who gives a damn about privacy and security any more?

      1. Sometimes I wonder when NOT having these devices and robots monitoring you all the time will fit a profile. “What? He doesn’t have a robot that watches him have sex? He must be an enemy combatant. Bring him in Danno.”

  • To say Apple is short-sighted to discontinue Airport is a HUGE understatement. Every time Apple dumbs-down any of their products or discontinues a product like Airport, which I’d looked to them for safety, reliability and security… my opinion of Apple diminishes and I have thoughts of Linux.

    1. I came fairly close to going Linux a couple of years ago. I was waiting for the new MacBook Pros. What Apple released were not “Pro” machines, but they dfid have an absurd price increase. Oh but it had a cool row of changing icons above the keyboard. Whoopti $&!@##$en do. I was not just disappointed, I was offended. I seriously looked at Linux systems. In the end I got a 27 inch iMac, but only because I realized most of my mobile computing was on the iPad now. But it was a close thing.

  • John et al:

    The ‘clear’ and ‘simple’ take on your PD title is ‘Yes’, it is short-sighted for Apple to discontinue Airport products, for all the reasons that the ZDNet and 9 to 5 Mac articles, as well as some of the comments, make; but that does not rule out HL Mencken’s concluding adjective of it being ‘wrong’. Nor am I arguing that it is wrong, but there are alternative views on this. Permit me to suggest just one.

    Apple are all about solutions to the complexity of managing our digital lives, but beyond that are two elements; that they strive to provide a best in class user experience (notable failures notwithstanding) and second that those solutions serve as aids, conduits or tools for our creativity and productivity. These are things that Apple have said about their product philosophy. Combined, these objectives have the effect of pushing technology and its solutions forward into not simply the future, but simultaneously addressing the currently unrecognised and future unanticipated needs of their client base. This is that oft-referenced ‘skating to where the puck will be’ approach. This means that the user base itself may not be prepared for an unexpected dash towards what appears to be nowhere, when they, like the bulk of the competition believe they should be focussed on where they can clearly see that puck – and it’s not where Apple appear to be recklessly careening towards.

    At the time when Apple proffered their own router solution, the technology was in its early phase, and Apple swiftly married this to another solution of a problem most of us were not addressing, backing up our data. Apple gave us Time Capsule, and a one click solution to at least incremental backups of multiple versions of our data. Yes, routers already existed, and yes, back up solutions also existed; but neither of these were generally offered in simple to execute package, and none of them, to my recollection, were provided in a combined package. Backing up our data, and graduating to a wireless digital lifestyle that spawned whole new generations of wireless devices and accessories was effected.

    These objectives have all been accomplished, and, as your post suggests, Apple have not been moving that needle forward. In the meantime, new issues have arisen in the world of digital lifestyle management and solutions, such as augmented reality, AI, and new security demands, in addition to whole new product lines. Apple have but so many resources to dedicate to these. It may be that they concluded, ‘job done’ on the router and wireless migration side, and that they could best address the needs of their user base by concentrating elsewhere. This might be especially so if Apple were not bringing something special to this space. Routers have not only proliferated, but with technologies like Mesh, moved on from Apple’s most capable solutions. Further company investment may simply have rendered a calculus of diminishing returns. Certainly with its mobile devices, Apple have shifted the security technologies and protocols to the devices, and macOS takes a back seat to none on PC OS security.

    Perhaps we’ve outgrown the need for an Apple-derived router solution. The reaction to Apple’s decision clearly indicates that we understand the importance of backing up our data, router security, not to mention quality, and to be sure, there are solid third party solutions for all of these.

    Two other points. If Apple truly recognised a security threat to their ecosystem by not having their own solution, one that bring the enterprise crashing down, it is difficult to imagine that they would not respond with the same emphatic innovation which they brought to bear on activities like digital communications and purchasing. Second, Apple have data on what we use and how we use it. If the demand were there, not simply in quantity, but were Apple routers a principal point of entry or driver of buying into the Apple ecosystem, then it would be short sighted, indeed self destructive, to abandon it. I suspect that neither of these are true, certainly not in my use case.

    To conclude, with all of the backup and router solutions extant today, it is difficult to make the case that Apple need to move either of these technologies forward, beyond what competitive market dynamics will do. That Apple can enter this market with an Apple variant does not guarantee any contribution beyond that of ‘me too’. The question is; if true, is that the market in which Apple need to be, or the best use case of Apple’s resources?

  • It’s been my experience (albeit a limited number of non-Apple products) that the other makers of Wi-Fi routers cater to the Windows world and Mac users are an afterthought – in both capability, control SW, and support.

    1. Thanks for the link. I vented. Told them how could you claim to be a strong advocate for privacy and yet abandon the product that is the home network’s gateway to the privacy and security cesspool that is cyberspace?

  • You can’t buy another wireless router that doesn’t look like it has an ugly alien attached to it. If for no other reason, give us a design that we can stand to look at. My 5th gen AEBS is still cruising along fine and is plenty fast enough for my 200/10 Mbps ISP connection -even with 8 devices attached.

  • Another agreement here. Most especially with regard to AirPlay. I have 3 x AirPort Express handling music throughout my house and they have been great. Discontinuing this sounds like a step backwards, especially as AirPLay 2 is supposed to arrive “real soon now”.

    WTF, Apple ??

  • Agreed. With new WiFi protocols, 5G and ATSC 3.0 on the horizon, one might think Apple is planning new routers that might drop etherrnet if anything. That they’re looking to add something to the HomePod to make it more desirable, that they’re “Thinking Different”.

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