Is the age of Apple-branded accessories coming to an end?

Apple AirPort Extreme Time Capsule
Apple AirPort Extreme Time Capsule (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Rumor has it Apple will be discontinuing the company's wireless routers, a line that currently consists of the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule products last updated in 2013.

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

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.

Earlier this year, Apple told me they were discontinuing the Thunderbolt display. So, this wouldn't be the first accessory Apple cut to focus on core products.

If true, I'll miss both the easy AirPlay feature of the AirPort Extreme, and the set-it-and-forget-it backup capability of the Time Capsule. The former let me beam music to any speaker system plugged into the Express. The latter just worked over wireless to keep a local backup of my MacBook and MacBook Pro.

Hopefully Apple will partner with other vendors to fill those gaps. Just like LG replaced the 4K and 5K displays Apple decided not to ship, a variety of router makers could step up to support AirPlay and Time Machine.

There's a lot Apple could still do with a home hub, including nearline iCloud, update staging, HomeKit handling, multi-person Siri voice control, and more. But, all of that would factor into a future product, not a past one, and it would be more of a device in its own right and less of an accessory.

Still, Apple still seems intent on updating other accessories, like the Magic line of Keyboard, Mouse, and Trackpad. The first of those, Magic Keyboard, seems especially primed for an update that includes Apple's new Touch Bar and Touch ID setup for Mac.

So, maybe it's better to frame it as Apple clearing the deck of what was so the company can focus on what's next?

Either way, I've used AirPorts for over a decade, they've always served me well, and I'll always appreciate the hard work and dedication of the teams behind them for that.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.