I’m selfish. Not only do I want Apple to get back into the external computer display business and want the company make its own speakers for the Mac again, I also want the tech giant to stay in the router business. All of these items make staying in the Apple ecosystem a more enjoyable, cohesive experience.
Apple is apparently abandoning the AirPort Express, the AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule. The Cupertino, California-based company has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, in a move to try to sharpen the company's focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, Bloomberg reported last November.
The article says Apple started shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV. The products make up a small slice of Apple’s revenue and are part of Apple’s “other products” category on its financial statements.
In some ways, I wasn’t surprised with this news. Apple hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 and lags behind in matching new standards from the wireless industry.
Despite this, with its AirPort Express, the AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule, the company still ranks highest in overall satisfaction among wireless router manufacturers in a new study by J.P. Power.
This gives me a (slim) bit of hope that Apple might build routers into a future Apple TV or a “Siri Speaker” competitor to the Amazon Echo. The former, Apple’s set-top box, is overdue for an update. Perhaps we’ll see an Apple TV/AirPort Base Station hybrid. Since Apple wants to make connectivity and computing as simple as possible, it seems unlikely that they don’t want to control such an essential part of the home online experience.
Perhaps instead of (or in addition to) an Apple TV/router, the tech giant will give us an Amazon Echo competitor, a Siri Speaker, with a built-in router. Last year it was reported that Apple was working on "an Amazon Echo-like device with a speaker and microphone that people can use to turn on music, get news headlines or set a timer” that will be powered by Siri. As Dan Moren at Macworld suggested, it would be cool if the Siri Speaker included the hardware needed to run the network, too.
“Add a USB port on the back, and the Siri Speaker could even continue the traditional functions of the AirPort line, allowing for on-site network backup,” Dan writes. “(Or the company could incorporate solid-state storage onboard for a Time Capsule-like setup—though probably not conventional magnetic-based storage if it’s also going to house a speaker.)”
Apple’s AirPort line was simple and easy to use. Building it in to a device with Siri seems like a logical step.