Adieu AirPort Extreme

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

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. […] Apple’s AirPorts have historically lagged behind those of companies such as D-Link Corp., Netgear Inc. and Belkin International Inc., which have rushed to adopt new standards. Apple, which has charged more for its routers, has focused more on integrating control of its devices into its computer operating system and industrial design.

I’m not really bothered by this. I feel it’s a good good thing that Apple looks at peripheral products and evaluates their usefulness to Apple itself and the market.

As Gurman notes, Apple hasn’t always been ahead of the curve when it comes to routers. Now there’s a shift moving away from the single router model to the multi-router wi-fi mesh networks championed by products like the Eero. In this light, the decision makes sense to me, does Apple dump intellectual and engineering resources into the AirPort to make it competitive with these new companies? Or do they kill it off?

Its obvious which route they took. Apple saw a need for a product like this when it was released in 2007. Now, with most routers being decent and fairly easy to use, that need is no longer there, so Apple is letting the dedicated router companies service this space.

We saw this last month with them leaving the display business. Apple is leaving the businesses that are being adequately served by other vendors. This is how Apple works. If it’s not a product category that Apple feels it can make a significant difference it, then it doesn’t enter them, or as has been the case this year, leaves those categories all together.