I, like so many others, rely on wireless networks for a great majority of my Internet usage. With my business, I have been able to see a vast array of Wi-Fi technology and equipment. With years of field testing and experience, I have developed a really good feel for what works well, and what doesn’t work well at all.
For consumer-level wireless networking needs, the brand that I recommend beyond all others is the Apple line of wireless products. You might be thinking that I’m biased because I’m an Apple guy and maintain a large technology usage footprint in the Apple ecosystem. I am biased, but my wireless network is agnostic and needs to work with all devices, Apple or otherwise.
I’ve seen wireless routers of all shapes and sizes. Some have no antenna, some, with so many antenna, look like a spider on their back. There are routers that claim to push speeds faster than all others, but what good is speed when you have to reboot your router every so often? For as much as we use Wi-Fi, it should be reliable, and the Apple line of wireless products has succeeded where so many other brands have failed. Once you set up your Apple wireless device(s), your Wi-Fi network just works. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to reboot my Apple Airport Extreme a few times… over the past two years.
I have an Apple Airport Express that I’m using as a Wi-Fi range extender to expand my network without it needing to be connected with a hard line. This unit has also been seldom rebooted and heartily broadcasts my Wi-Fi network across my old construction home that is averse to radio communications. I had tried wireless range extenders from a few other companies and none would allow for this type of network in my home, let alone work well without need for rebooting.
This week, I was shaken by some terrible news. According to reports on Bloomberg by Mark German, “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 hasn’t refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn’t currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans.”
This wouldn’t be a big deal except that the Apple family of wireless products work so well. Apple’s wireless products, including the AirPort Extreme, Airport Express, and Time Capsule, are easy to setup and configure, and once implemented, rarely have issues. The wireless range extending capabilities on these devices are, hands-down, the best and most reliable of all the consumer level of wireless products. This statement is the result of five years of field testing with hundreds of units and replacements for other brands of consumer wireless gear.
So I decided to try to do something about it. I created a petition at Change.org in an effort to get Apple to notice that consumers care about more than a new phone or tablet every year. We want products that are reliable and easy to use, and wireless networking is a huge component of our modern technology. By abandoning their development for wireless networking products, Apple is abandoning one of the widest consumer bases, those who use Wi-Fi in their home or small business.
If you appreciate Apple’s line of wireless networking products and will be hard-pressed to find something else that works and works as well, please consider signing this petition and share it with those who care. Together our collective screams of frustration might be heard by those who matter in Cupertino.