Is Apple on a product streamlining spree?


When Apple unveiled the first Airport wireless networking device back in 1999, it was the start of an era—wireless routers were yet to become commonplace in most homes. Multiple generation, 19 years later, that era is coming to an end. The Cupertino based company will no longer manufacture and sell the Airport Express, the Airport Extreme and the Airport Time Capsule. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though. The Express was last updated with newer hardware in 2012, while the Extreme and the Time Capsule got the last coat of new paint in 2013.

If you already own one of these devices, you don’t need to immediately rush to a store to buy a new router though. Apple’s ‘Vintage and obsolete products’ policy suggests that it will continue to be supported by Apple service for any hardware and software support, in case you need it, for another 5 years. It is likely that Apple doesn’t see the value in the wireless networking space at the moment, considering the evolution to mesh systems (something that the likes of Google and Netgear have done) brings in its own licensing hassles, and the shift to the 802.11ax wireless generation would have required even more investment in updating the Airport line-up.

However, this move does make us wonder—are there any other products in the Apple product line-up that could be the next on the chopping block? As it turns out, there are a few potential contenders, who might be looking over their shoulder more often than not.

MacBook Air

It is extremely unlikely that the MacBook Air, the current generation that is still a hot favourite in stores, will be discontinued this year. The reason is simple—you can find it for price tags as low as Rs55,000 (depending on deals and offers in stores), and at that price, it has no full-fledged laptop rivals for the sort of portability and battery life. Yes, it got a new processor in 2017, but the design has remained the same for many years now. While the 12-inch MacBook was supposed to be its logical successor, the significantly higher price tag in comparison didn’t really help. Yes, there are rumors that Apple will have a proper MacBook Air refresh out sometime later this year, and that can only make the very popular device even more interesting for potential buyers.

iPad Mini 4

Apple hasn’t updated the Mini since 2015, and its age is starting to show. It is the smallest iPad, with a 7.9-inch screen, and is powered by an A8 processor (the same as an iPhone 6), which isn’t the newest option on the table. It is priced at Rs33,800 (128GB; Wi-Fi) and Rs44,500 (128GB; Wi-Fi + Cellular). Theoretically, anyone who prefers a small screen would find the iPad Mini 4 appealing. However, really can’t recommend this over the iPad (2018), because the older specifications don’t justify the price tag—and for lesser, you can pick the newest iPad (2018), with the added advantage of a larger and better display, powerful specifications, as well as support for the Apple Pencil.

iPod Touch

It last got new innards in 2015, and except for the better storage options introduced in 2017, the iPod Touch has not been at the centre stage of any Apple announcements over the past few years. The 4-inch screen and the ageing A8 processor don’t really have the grunt to even make a case for the iPod Touch as a mobile gaming device anymore. At one time, it was basically an iPhone without the calling feature, but since then, the iPhone designs as well as hardware and screen sizes have changed significantly. At Rs17,000 for a 32GB variant (the 128GB variant is priced at Rs25,300), it isn’t exactly value for money either. Last summer, Apple had put the older iPods out of service, since they didn’t have access to the Apple Music streaming service. It is unlikely that we will see the iPod Touch around for too long. An iPhone X-esque iPod would look beautiful, but it might be hard to justify the price.

Mac Mini

It has been four years since the Mac Mini, the smallest and most affordable Mac, last got new specifications. That means, it is still running the fourth generation Intel Core processors, which isn’t exactly enticing buyers anymore. Priced upwards of Rs40,900 for the base variant, you get the specification options of faster Core i5 processors, 500GB or 1TB storage options and 4GB or 8GB RAM. It might actually be fun to see Apple resurrect the Mac Mini in the way the Mac Pro was, literally from the forgotten embers. At present, the portable desktop space isn’t exactly bursting at its seams and there are hardly any Windows machines too.

But there is hope. Apple, after leaving the Mac Pro out in the cold for almost 12 years, has brought it back to again be the torchbearer of the Mac computing device line-up, and was redesigned from scratch. It is also being suggested that Apple could consider getting back into the display business, after exiting it in 2016, to make an 8K display.livemint