Apple’s announcement that it is discontinuing its AirPort product line wasn’t exactly a surprise. As we noted earlier, Bloomberg reported back in 2016 that Apple had disbanded the team responsible for its wireless routers, and we first spotted the company selling third-party ones.
But while it isn’t a surprise, I do think it’s the wrong decision – and a particularly ill-timed one …
Apple was one of the first companies to recognize that accessing the Internet had become the primary reason for a consumer to buy a personal computer. It not only marketed the iMac with this in mind, but that was how the model got its name. That naming convention was, of course, what led to the iDevice branding for iBook, iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Apple is also all about the ecosystem. Devices and services that all work together seamlessly. Routers – while not a sexy product – were part of that end-to-end Apple experience.
I recognize the economic argument, of course. These days everyone gets a free WiFi router from their ISP. Probably a relatively small number of people bother to buy a separate one, and only some of those buy an Apple one. But there are six counter-arguments.
First, I think an Apple router is like an Apple monitor. Most people might not want one, but for those who do, it’s an important part of their overall setup. It’s not good enough for Apple to shrug and say that it’s not a sufficiently profitable product line. The company needs to support those customers who want an end-to-end Apple setup because they are the most loyal and profitable customers.