Reports are coming in from across the US that many Apple Stores are low on stock or completely out of AirPort wireless devices, suggesting that a refresh of the popular wireless routers might be on its way soon.
This shortage appears to be effecting the AirPort Extreme, as well as the Express and Time Capsule devices. One possible reason for this might be that Apple is making iCloud-related enhancements or modifications to the devices, which is certainly an interesting possibility.
While nothing specific has been heard in regards to the refresh, typically when inventory channels become this constrained, it’s a fairly good indication that a product update is imminent. Curiously, this year’s WWDC is widely expected to be a software-only event, so if the AirPort line is indeed being updated, it’s unlikely we’ll hear about any upgrades then… unless Apple plans on somehow tying an updated AirPort line in with its iCloud offering. Shared data running off of local storage like a Pogoplug? Could happen.
9to5Mac shares an interesting idea about how this might work:
What we do know is that Apple has been internally testing Time Capsules to cache Software Updates for both Mac and iOS devices. The way we’ve heard it works is that the new Time Capsule learns which devices connect to it via Wifi. It then goes out to Apple’s servers and downloads Software Updates for those products.
When the user wants to install the software update, the Time Capsule, which is also the router, routes you to the locally stored update, rather than downloading the whole thing over the Internet. This works for iOS updates as well, though the updating still happened via the Mac.
With Apple’s new iCloud component, we believe Apple has a chance to extend this functionality. Perhaps Time Capsules could cache parts of your iCloud music locker that you use the most so that it speeds up the streaming process. It could also cache large documents and files that get used often or even movies and photos you own.
Apple’s online store still offers “within 24 hours” shipping times for all of its AirPort products, and not every Apple Store we’ve contacted has been able to confirm device shortages. However, it has been nearly two years since the last upgrade to the AirPort line, so it might be due for an update.