Some major third-party retailers are showing “Out of Stock” for the availability of Apple’s popular Airport Extreme Wireless Base Station, possibly indicating that an updated model, with 802.11ac could be on its way.
As of Monday, the online stores of both Amazon and Best Buy were out of stock of Apple’s AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station. Limited availability of the AirPort Extreme comes as Apple is gearing up for a major holiday shopping season, where the company is expected to introduce numerous new products.
When Apple hardware starts showing up in limited availability it’s often an indication that a new model is on it way. The last update of the AirPort Extreme was back in June of 2011, when it was upgraded with a 2.8 times power boost for improved Wi-Fi connections.
It was first reported in January that Apple could begin including support for the new 802.11ac specification, which would add “Gigabit Wi-Fi” to the AirPort base stations.
802.11ac, has not yet been formally adopted, and isn’t expected to be ratified until next year. Even thought the standard hasn’t been finalized, some companies have released 802.11ac routers this year.
Apple has a history of being ahead of the curve when it comes to new wireless standards. In January of 2007, Apple announced that AirPort base stations and the Apple TV would include support for the not as yet finalized draft 802.11n specifications.
Apple’s support for 802.11n came nearly 3 years ahead of the formal ratification of the standard.
802.11ac promises initial speeds of around a gigabit, significantly faster than the 450-megabit speeds that can be achieved with 802.11n. The new standard is also designed to keep network performance at a high level when multiple devices connect to the same router.
(As of the writing of this article, Both Amazon and Best Buy were showing “In Stock” for the Airport Extreme. All of the Best Buy stores in my area were showing in stock for pick-up.)