Apple is getting out of the router business: The company has disbanded its wireless router team and assigned its members to other areas, according to a Bloomberg report. Apple declined to comment on the report.
Apple hasn’t updated its routers since 2013. The company is currently selling two router models for $99 and $199 respectively, as well as a line of network-attached storage drives with integrated router starting at $299. Discontinuing the devices is unlikely to make a big dent in Apple’s bottom line
Interestingly, Apple is leaving the router business just as one of its biggest competitors is getting into selling Wifi routers: Google started to ship its own router, simply called Google Wifi, this week. Google Wifi is supposed to make it easier to cover bigger houses or houses with older walls with blanket coverage by combining multiple routers.
As others have noted, Apple’s departure from making routers also comes at the time of a technology shift from local networking to the cloud. New routers like Google Wifi often feature some sort of cloud tie-in, and many of the things that Apple’s router used to try to solve locally are now being provided through cloud services.
This includes one feature baked into Apple’s entry-level Airport Express router, which doubles as a wireless music player. Users can plug their Airport Express into their stereo systems and then listen to music via AirPlay.
That was a big deal when most people still had all of their music on their phones or computers. But these days, wireless speakers or cheap adapters like Google’s Chromecast Audio offer a much better experience when used in conjunction with cloud-based music services like Spotify or Pandora.