A fresh report by Bloomberg attempts to shed light on Apple’s AirPort wireless router lineup, a product that hasn’t been updated in as many as three years. According to the report, the company is currently ‘disbanding’ it’s router division and is directing employees from this section to other projects, specifically Apple’s TV division. This means that the Cupertino giant won’t be developing AirPorts any longer, a move that seems to be the result of a move to focus more on products earning a majority of Apple’s revenue.
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.
Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.
With the removal of the AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule that cost $99, $199, and $299 respectively, holes will surely be left in Apple’s ecosystem. Without a need to be dependant on Apple’s products, some customers may make the switch to other PCs, smartphones, tablets, and even routers in full since they won’t be as locked in as before.
One use case for customers that may or may not keep AirPort users within Apple’s ecosystem is AirDrop. Apple’s AirPort Express features a 3.5mm audio jack that can be used to plug in a set of speakers for wireless audio playback from one’s AirDrop-enabled device such as the iPhone or Mac. Of course, this type of product already exists on its own across the market (remember Chromecast Audio?) without doubling as a wireless router, so there’s plenty of possibility that Apple could develop a standalone device based on this use case. Nevertheless, this feature may very well keep some of Apple’s loyal customers locked in for the long run if no further devices with this capability becomes available.
Of course, not all hope is lost for Apple and the routers business. Similar to the company and LG’s UltraFine 5K monitor for the MacBook Pro, Apple may partner with a third party to further develop and distribute wireless routers. By having a separate company design and build them, Apple will likely save some cash when it comes to their internet providers and probably net greater earnings as a result. We have yet to hear anything on this hypothesis let alone get confirmation that this report is even accurate, so for now take this information with a grain of salt.