Rene Ritchie for iMore:
Apple is ceasing production of its AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule Wi-Fi routers. I had a chance to speak to Apple briefly about the decision, and here’s the statement I was given
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.
This news is bittersweet. I own both a second generation Airport Extreme and a modern-ish Airport Base station. Whilst I don’t currently use the latter, both products follow the traditional Apple mantra of, “it just works”. Simple to set up, a reliable feature set and they looked amazing in the living room. I still use the Airport Extreme to bring some much need AirPlay functionality to a 2:1 speaker set by the TV.
Infrastructure isn’t sexy but it’s crucial. Perhaps the current take up of their base stations wasn’t enough to continue investment in the product line. Pretty much every ISP gives you a router when you sign up for broadband these days, so the need to go out and acquire one has diminished. Some companies like Sky take it a step further still and lock their network down to only work with their hardware. But the world of wireless networking is heating up. If their heart’s not in it – and I don’t think Apple’s has been for a couple of years now – then they should back out.
I wonder if this is the end of the road for adding Airplay to ‘dumb’ speakers. I’m certainly not about to invest hundreds of pounds in a HomePod when the audio equipment I have is perfectly serviceable. Whether this was the right decision or not remains to be seen.