Apple Starts Selling Linksys Mesh WiFi System, Comments on AirPort Lineup

Zac Hall, 9to5Mac:

When asked about the move to sell a third-party mesh system and the future of the AirPort line, an Apple spokesperson shared this with 9to5Mac:

People love our AirPort products and we continue to sell them. Connectivity is important in the home and we are giving customers yet another option that is well suited for larger homes.

Apple’s choice for that option is the Linksys Velop Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System which comes in two flavors: $350 for a 2-pack system or $500 for a 3-pack solution. The Tri-Band Wi-Fi system is rated to provide coverage for 2,000 square feet with each Node which can be configured from the Linksys iPhone and iPad app.

There are non-answers, and then there are Apple-grade non-answers. That statement confirms that WiFi is basically an expectation these days — duh — and that they are presently selling their AirPort lineup. More telling, though, is what they don’t say: there’s no confirmation that they’re even remotely interested in continuing to offer their own base station, which is remarkable even less commitment than they made to updating the Mac Mini.

In addition to this move, Mark Gurman’s reported in 2016 that Apple had disbanded the AirPort team, and I’ve heard thirdhand that no updates are planned.1 I’m convinced that the AirPort lineup is dead and will quietly be removed from Apple’s store and website in the not-too-distant future.

Update: Good question from Al Rumball-Smith:

I’ve been trying to work out what’s the future for Time Capsule then? iCloud?

I think something like Time Machine in the Cloud is a reasonable guess. I could also see more third-party routers supporting Time Machine via a USB-connected hard drive — apparently, some Netgear and Asus routers have done so for a while.

Update: A reader email reminded me that Apple took at least two months to patch their base station products to protect against a significant WiFi vulnerability. iOS and MacOS were updated within two weeks. I don’t know if the thirdhand information I have is right, of course, but the general thrust of the reports I’ve seen and moves Apple has made when it comes to their AirPort lineup strongly suggests that they’re not interested in the WiFi router market much longer.

  1. They haven’t even bothered to update the iOS app with support for the iPhone X’s display. ↥︎