Apple is axing its networking division, with the company’s AirPort range of products set to fade into the history books.
Despite an official confirmation yet to come from Apple itself, Bloomberg is reporting that the electronics giant has been quietly ramping down its Wi-Fi router division over the past year – with employees being reallocated to other divisions.
Apple has been at the heart of many criticisms from those in the technology media over the past year, with the company having been the target of attacks for failing to innovate, or in the case of President-Elect Trump, failing to comply with federal requests.
The wind down of its networking business is reportedly being done to ensure that the company can ‘sharpen its focus’ on the devices that make up the bulk of its revenue – namely the iPhone, iPad and MacBook line-ups. It will signal the end of an era in the world of networking however, with Apple having pioneered many of the earlier generations of Wi-Fi standards with its AirPort range.
Apple hasn’t refreshed its router line-up since 2013, but prior to that the company was rather bullish when it comes to adopting the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standards. Apple was one of wireless networking’s biggest proponents, having added the technology to all of its laptops as early as 1999. The company was also the first to ship a Wi-Fi router, the Airport Base Station – which also arrived in 1999.
Since then the company has continued to innovate in the networking space. Apple caught on to the multi-room audio craze extremely early on, launching almost a year earlier than Sonos’ very first product. It was also often the first to incorporate the latest standards, with even its most recent router, the AirPort Extreme, being one of the earlier to support the Wireless AC standard.
Ditching its wireless networking division may not sound out of character for a company that makes 68% of its revenue from the iPhone, but considering some of the moves Apple has made in 2016 – it’s certainly surprising.
Apple continues to push wireless technologies, ditching traditional connectors from its computer and smartphone line-ups, including the MacBook Pro’s reliance on just two USB Type-C ports and the iPhone’s axing of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple could have been the one-stop-shop for its customers wanting to rely on wireless networking for everything, but instead it seems the company would rather send those customers elsewhere.
There’s no shortage of other wireless networking companies however; Asus, Netgear and TP-Link have all managed to carve out a nice section of the residential networking market in the UK, leaving little room for Apple.