Networking

Apple kills wireless routers: Here are the alternatives for professionals and SMBs

According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is shuttering the division responsible for its AirPort routers. Here are some other options to consider.

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Image: Dong Ngo/CNET

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Apple has officially shuttered the team responsible for its line of wireless routers. The report cited "people familiar with the matter," and noted that Apple had completed this process over the past year.

It seems, though, that the engineers on the team were simply reassigned to other areas of the company. According to the report, employees were moved to other divisions that are more central to Apple's core product offerings, like the Apple TV.

Apple, like many other tech companies, is known for updating its core products on a fairly frequent, set schedule. However, as noted by the report, some of the models in its router line up, like the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule, haven't been updated since 2013. The AirPort Express Base Station hasn't been updated since 2012.

SEE: Apple iCloud: The smart person's guide

According to the report, the routers are part of Apple's "other products" on its financial report, and only contribute to about 5% of sales overall. Earlier this year, Apple also killed off its external monitor business, instead partnering with LG to produce the LG UltraFine 5K Display to work with its new 2016 MacBook Pro. So, it's possible that Apple may be courting another vendor to build a similar offering.

If you are a professional who works remotely and relies on an Apple router, or if you are part of a small business that uses one, it is important to realize that Apple will likely discontinue support for these devices. Even if it continues supporting the routers for now, Apple considers certains devices "vintage" after five years and "obsolete" after seven years, which means that many of the routers will have limited support available in the next few years either way.

It is also important to consider that many of these devices are still for sale in Apple retail locations around the world, so keep that in mind if you are in the market for a new wireless router. However, there were some reports in May 2016 that Apple had pulled the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule from many store in the US.

If you want to avoid the potential lack of support with discontinued Apple routers, there are other options available that might provide better support and performance. For more standard routers, the Synology RT1900ac, the Asus RT-AC88U, and the Linksys WRT1900ACS are all options to consider.

Another option would be to use one of the new mesh routers, which use multiple access points to create a wireless mesh network for your home or business. In November, Google announced its foray into the market with the Google Wi-Fi router, but the Eero Wi-Fi system, the Luma Wi-Fi system, and Netgear's Orbi are also worth checking out.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Bloomberg reported that Apple has closed the division responsible for its AirPort wireless routers, meaning that consumers likely won't see another update to the line.
  2. Apple recently stopped production on its external monitors, instead partnering with LG to produce one for the new MacBook Pro, which could be the direction it takes with routers.
  3. The potential lack of support may mean that professionals and small businesses who currently use Apple routers may need to explore other options available to them.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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