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Apple Discontinues AirPort Routers

With a statement provided to iMore earlier today, Apple confirmed what Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman first reported in late 2016 (not a typo): the company is officially exiting the WiFi router business by discontinuing the AirPort line of products.

From Rene Ritchie’s story:

Routers are different. They’re infrastructure. They’re behind televisions, underneath desks, and in closets. For some people, especially people who appreciate Apple’s design and manufacturing, and its unequivocal stance on security and privacy, the loss of the AirPort line will still be a blow.

I’m one of those people.

But I’m also reminded of a comment Steve Jobs once said to one of his direct reports: Sure, Apple could do that and make some money at it, but was it really a business Apple had to be in?

As much as I’ve tried to understand the argument that Apple needs to focus on fewer products, I just can’t buy into the idea that they had to stop making WiFi routers.

My stance is pretty straightforward: everybody needs a WiFi router and the vast majority of routers suck. They are unsightly pieces of plastic that feature an assortment of meaningless blinking lights which you have to manage through terrifyingly confusing web apps intentionally designed to resemble accounting software from the late 90s. Sure, you could buy one of the fancy modern mesh systems, but they’re expensive, and some of them are not available in all regions, and people who live in small homes don’t need them. Doesn’t an elegant, integrated, affordable, and modern router sound like something that Apple should continue to offer as an option for its users?

I guess that WiFi routers don’t generate as much good PR as recommitting to Pro displays. But if there’s an aspect of modern technology that could use great hardware and software design, a focus on privacy and security, and user-friendly controls for families, that would be WiFi routers. I’m disappointed to learn that Apple has chosen to give up instead.