Apple Discontinuing AirPort Base Station Line is No Surprise

Apple kills AirPort wireless routers by disbanding the engineering team

Apple hinted that it was out of the Wi-Fi base station game in late 2016 by disbanding its wireless networking team, and now it’s official: the AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule are no more. Apple has stopped making its Base Station line but will keep selling the products until the remaining inventory is gone.

Apple kills AirPort wireless routers by disbanding the engineering team
Apple officially kills off AirPort product line

Apple’s official confirmation comes from statements given to 9to5 Mac and iMore. The statement says,

We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products. They will be available through, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last.

That means the next time you need to buy a new Wi-Fi router, unless it’s really soon, you won’t get one with an Apple logo.

The Slow Demise of the AirPort Base Station

Apple gate Wi-Fi a kickstart back in 1999 with the original AirPort Base Station and clamshell iBook. AirPort support then spread to include the rest of the Mac lineup and led to several product iterations including the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule—an AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi router with a built-in hard drive for Time Capsule backups over the network.

The AirPort product line stalled in 2013 when the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule were last updated. Both got 802.11ac support while the AirPort Express was last refreshed in 2012 with a body redesign. The Express has been stuck at 802.11n since 2008.

[Apple Quietly Kills AirPort Extreme by Breaking Up Wireless Router Team]

[The Pros and Cons of Legacy Apple Products Going Extinct]

Without any changes to the product line in years, it wasn’t a big surprise in late 2016 when word surfaced that Apple’s wireless networking team had been disbanded. That was a pretty clear indication that the AirPort lineup was done.

Fast forward to spring 2018 and we’re finally getting official confirmation that Apple is out of the Wi-Fi router business.

Life After AirPort

If you’re planning on continuing to use AirPort Base Stations for the long term, you better hope your current model doesn’t fail. You can also buy a few spares while they’re still in stores.

Since the Wi-Fi router market continued to progress after 2013, Apple’s Base Stations seem dated despite their reliability. Newer products from other companies offer features such as better bandwidth management, VPN support, cloud storage, and more. Wi-Fi Mesh as come into its own, too, and that’s another feature you can’t get with an AirPort Base Station.

[Synology RT2600ac and RT1900ac: Your Apple AirPort Extreme Replacement]

[Wi-Fi Mesh Systems Compared: eero, Orbi, AmpliFi]

If you’re looking for a stand-alone Wi-Fi router and are willing to spend most of the price of an AirPort Extreme, TMO’s Dave Hamilton suggests you check out Synology’s products. If you’re looking to move to a Wi-Fi Mesh setup, Dave has some great suggestions there, too.

Regardless of what your next Wi-Fi router choice is, don’t look to Apple for a new option. The AirPort lineup stalled in 2013 and now is officially dead, which is a shame because Apple’s Wi-Fi routers have been so reliable.

9 thoughts on “Apple Discontinuing AirPort Base Station Line is No Surprise

  • Out of context and I thought it was ironic, that Ford recently announced they were discontinuing cars in North America and focusing on their trucks and SUVs. Steve Jobs made an analogy between cars and trucks. Seems Ebenezer Cook is focusing on cars and letting the trucks slide.

  • Have had two AirPort Extremes. One for five years until a power surge took it out. My second one is six years old and is going strong. Eventually I will have to update. Not sure what I’ll get, but I know it won’t be as easy, or reliable, or work as seamlessly with the rest of my stuff. Really bummed by this.

    1. Me too. My first extreme died when lightning hit the ground about 100 metres from the house.
      Second one is going strong. All my setup and connection problems ceased when I switched to Airport routers 10 years ago. This is really bad news.

  • I found the setup and overall performance and reliability of the Airport family of routers to be perfectly fine. But the real “loss” now is the simplicity with which I could share printers and hard drives plugged into these routers.

    What are the best options to get my printers and hard drives for shared media (Photos and iTunes libraries, other often-shared files) and TimeMachine backup drives for wireless backups?

  • This sucks. The benefit of having wireless routers in their lineup is giving customers whole widget experience. Since they built the hardware and software, Airports work seamlessly with other Apple products – which is something that can’t be said of any other wi-fi router. Every other wireless system I’ve tried is a PITA to set up; the Airport Utility is drop dead simple for configuring a network.

    Apple is on a long, painful path towards becoming a services company that also sells computer hardware; forfeiting an essential hub of their ecosystem only sells themselves and their customers short.

  • I liked the Airport Utility app better than using a browser. I have two Airports connected to my Uverse router and WiFi which has low power. Sooner rather than later I will need to upgrade to a mesh or something.

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