Sunday, April 29, 2018

Apple makes yet another short-sighted decision

Apple has discontinued a product that it should have made a cornerstone of its home automation and entertainment ecosystem.


After months of rumors, Apple has finally killed off its line of AirPort Wi-Fi routers.

Big mistake.

The AirPort line of routers is a product from a different era. While nowadays everyone has Wi-Fi, pretty much everywhere they go, AirPort was built for a time when this wasn't the case, and setting up secure, easy-to-use Wi-Fi network was far from easy.

So AirPort is no longer needed?

Wrong.

While I think that the days of needing a standalone router are maybe gone, AirPort was more than just a router. One of the models that Apple sold was the Time Capsule, a version that housed a hard drive and made backing up Mac's easy.

And AirPort could have fitted in well with other projects that Apple is working on. For example, Combining the AirPort Time Capsule with the Apple TV could have resulted in a very interesting device indeed.

Throw in the functionality of the HomePod and the device becomes the ultimate home hub, blowing away the Amazon Echo and the Google Home.

Apple's abandoning of the AirPort line is yet another sign that the company is more interested in chasing the mass market - riding the iPhone wave if you want to think of it that way - than it is about building a broad and functioning ecosystem.

While Wi-Fi routers might not be the cool, cutting-edge gadgets they were once seen as, people still need them, and many are confused and bewildered by even the simplest of networking tasks. And yet combining the features of a Time Capsule AirPort router with that of the Apple TV, and add in a sprinkling of HomePod, and Apple would have had the Swiss Army Knife of home hubs, bringing together networking, backup, and home entertainment into a single device.

This seems like a missed opportunity to me, and Apple has vacated a space that I now think that a company such as Amazon (a better fit for a project like this than Google for a number of reasons) should enter.

On the plus side for Apple, perhaps getting rid of smaller side projects such as AirPort might free up company resources to do things like fix iOS and maybe even make the iPhone great again.



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