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Shortages suggest Apple will announce a new Airport Extreme and Time Capsule at WWDC

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The AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule are out of stock at some Apple stores, suggesting a new version of Apple’s wireless router line will soon be announced.

Apple customers from New Jersey to California are being told they can’t buy Apple’s routers because they’re out of stock. It is unusual for Apple Stores, well-oiled operations that they are, to run out of stock unless there’s an update coming soon that Apple has yet to announce, MacRumors is reporting.

With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference just a couple weeks away on June 13, a reconfigured AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule seem likely. Sure, there could be other explanations. A recent firmware update might mean Apple employees are having to patch devices before selling them. And this could just be an unrelated fluctuation in Apple’s supply line. It’s hard to know, really.

But what we do know is that Apple’s line of routers could use an update. The current $200 Airport Extreme was introduced in 2013, and offers 1.3 gigabits per second of bandwidth spread across two bands. That was great when the router was released, but is far behind similarly priced competition today.

The $130 Zyxel AC2200, for example, offers 2.2Gbps. Google’s $200 OnHub devices, which rival Apple’s routers for ease of use, offer 1.9Gbps. And if you’re willing to spend $400 on a router, you can get a lot more power than that. The Linksys EA9500, for example, offers 5.3Gbps spread across three bands.

Put simply, the Airport Extreme was once a premium router by specs, but isn’t in the current market. A refresh could change that.

The $300 to $400 Time Capsule is the same as the Airport Extreme, but offers a 1 to 2TB hard drive for Time Machine backups from Mac computers.

Ideally, a new router from Apple would match or exceed middle-end routers on the market right now. Stock running out at Apple Stores suggests such an update may be announced soon, so maybe put off that AirPort Extreme purchase until June 13.

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Justin Pot
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