Some people are surprised that Apple will no longer be selling its Wi-Fi routers, the AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme, and its wireless backup AirPort Time Capsule devices. You shouldn’t be. Apple stopped developing its networking hardware back in 2016.
Maybe that kind of behind-the-scenes hardware just isn’t sexy enough for a company with its headquarters in a flying saucer.
The devices are still available, but only as long as supplies last. And Apple is not offering discounts on them. It’s still selling AirPort Express for $99, AirPort Extreme for $199, 2TB AirPort Time Capsules for $299 and 3TB AirPort Time Capsules for $399. You may find better deals at Apple resellers.
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Bad Apple. Bad. As my colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes observed, Apple abandoning its Wi-Fi devices is a dumb move.
The AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme were not just easy-to-deploy Wi-Fi routers. They enabled you to network older printers, add network drives and attach speakers.
True, today there are many Wi-Fi-enabled printers, and network-attached storage drives are everywhere; but there are still no speakers that support Apple’s new audio standard, AirPlay 2. Besides, I don’t know about you, but I liked attaching older printers, stand-alone hard drives and my stereo system to my Macs with the AirPort lines.
Well, when they worked, anyway. As Apple expert Glenn Fleishman of Macworld, reported, “Apple’s Wi-Fi hardware has a long-term reputation for not having the same staying power as most of its other gear, often because of failing power-supply components.”
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I can add that Apple’s “easy-to-use” AirPort Utility consistently failed for me. Like so many Apple software programs, it was simply bad.
Oh, when it did work, it was great. But, like way too many other Apple software programs, it simply doesn’t consistently work well. I have spent far too many hours with it teasing AirPorts to once more connect with the rest of my network.
On the other hand, I think Time Capsules are (excuse me, were) the perfect complement to Apple’s Time Machine utility. And, in turn, I think Time Machine is a great backup utility.
Apple would have us replace these with backups to iCloud. I don’t think so.
Cloud backups are fine; iCloud — not so much. Besides, desktop backups and restores, even with fast internet connections, tend to be on the slow side.
That said, there’s a bigger issue here. Can you trust Apple to support its infrastructure products?
Since the last AirPort Express update in 2012, which brought it full 802.11n support, we’ve seen eight — count ’em, eight — new iPhone models. Now, what does that tell you about Apple’s commitment to the non-sexy, bread-and-potatoes, business side of its product line?
I’ll tell you what it tells me: Apple couldn’t care less about its SMB and enterprise customers.
Sure, you can spend your IT budget on iPhones if you like (though, seriously, isn’t that expensive?), but for anything else, look elsewhere.