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Tech Tuesday: Apple Unveils AirPort Express

Jobs has done it again.

Cupertino, California—June 7, 2004—Apple� today unveiled AirPort� Express, the world’s first 802.11g mobile base station that can be plugged directly into the wall for wireless Internet connections and USB printing, or thrown into a laptop bag to bring wireless freedom to hotel rooms with broadband connections. Airport Express also features analog and digital audio outputs that can be connected to a stereo and AirTunes music networking software which works seamlessly with iTunes�, giving users a simple and inexpensive way to wirelessly stream iTunes music on their Mac� or PC to any room in the house. AirPort Express features a single piece ultra-compact design weighing just 6.7 ounces, and will be available to Mac and PC users starting in July for just $129.

Thanks to Apple for being so damn smart.

“AirPort Express isn’t just the world’s first mobile 802.11g base station—with the addition of AirTunes users can now play their iTunes music on any stereo in their home—all without wires,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This innovative Apple product will appeal to both notebook users who want wireless freedom in their hotel rooms and to music lovers who want to listen to their iTunes music library on a stereo located anywhere in their home.”

Apple was the first company to offer consumers easy, affordable wireless networking and is now the first to offer a truly portable wireless base station compatible with industry standard 802.11g and 802.11b wireless devices. AirPort Express features an incredibly compact design with no power brick required, providing maximum portability so it can easily be taken on the road for wireless broadband access in hotel rooms. The AirPort Express mobile base station also includes a built-in combination digital and analog audio connector allowing users to connect AirPort Express to a home stereo, powered analog speakers or the latest digital 5.1 surround sound systems.

AirTunes is Apple’s breakthrough music networking technology which works seamlessly with iTunes running on either Macs or PCs to let users easily create a wireless music network in their home. iTunes 4.6 automatically detects remote speakers and displays them in a simple pop-up list for the user to select. Once the remote speakers are selected, AirTunes wirelessly streams the iTunes music from the computer to the AirPort Express base station. AirTunes music is encoded to protect it from theft while streaming across the wireless music network and uses Apple’s lossless compression technology to insure no loss of sound quality. AirPort Express provides a range of up to 150 feet, and multiple AirPort Express base stations can be bridged together to send music to extended areas.

AirPort Express offers both Mac and PC users the ability to share a single DSL or cable broadband account with up to 10 simultaneous users and a single USB printer with multiple users. With its advanced security features, AirPort Express safeguards data on networked computers with support for WiFi Protected Access (WPA), 128-bit encryption and a built-in firewall.

AirPort Express can be ordered immediately through the Apple Store� and is expected to be available in July at Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $129 (US). AirTunes requires the next version of iTunes, iTunes 4.6, which is expected to be available later this week as a free download.

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ARCHIVE ID 1978 FILED UNDER Hardware/Software
PUBLISHED ON Jun.08.2004 BY Kiran Max Weber
mitch’s comment is:

being a total Mac fanboy (read: Steve's Bitch) and having some summer break time i have followed this one yesterday and today on some other forums and i think its a cool device and all, especially for a home user with a wireless laptop who likes to roam about with it from chair to couch to floor, etc... Also for a home user looking for WiFi its half the price of the full Airport base station.

but i think the really interesting thing is look at Apple brand.... i think that most people on the street are now thinking of Apple as 'that computer company with all the music stuff' and the way this item is presented mostly as a way to stream music to a stereo adds to that. I, and most of us here i would guess, still look at Apple as the 'pro graphics/media/etc.. computer company' and i wonder if there is starting to be a real paradigm shift within Apple; it usted to be a sexy marriage between pro and consumer but lately it feels like 90% of Apple is completely consumer consumer, and if makes me wonder where thier 'pro' products will be in a few years. I think (hope) its a good sign that thier branding is getting AWAY from the candy jelly buttons and UI components to a more minimal flat color look and feel across both its OS and its promotional materials, which to me feels more professional and less consumerish, but still talks to both.

anyway i think this is gonna be a good month for Apple fans...lots on the way in the next few weeks.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:41 PM
Rick’s comment is:

I admit that I'm a Mac freak (for nineteen years! w00t!) and that Apple can do little wrong in my eyes, but damn if this isn't the coolest thing I've seen them release in a long time.

The only thing I dislike about it is that I can't buy one right this minute.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:41 PM
mitch’s comment is:

2 things to add....

1. iTunes Music Store for Europe on or about the 16th of this month.

2. The Salling Clicker for making your bluetooth cellphone into a remote for your Mac is the coolest freaking thing i have used in a while, and is a good accompanyment to the Airport Express.

On Jun.08.2004 at 12:51 PM
Justin’s comment is:

Wow, speak up has turned into a damn apple fanboi press release site today.

On Jun.08.2004 at 01:01 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

i wonder if there is starting to be a real paradigm shift within Apple; it usted to be a sexy marriage between pro and consumer but lately it feels like 90% of Apple is completely consumer consumer, and if makes me wonder where thier 'pro' products will be in a few years.

Mitch I second your concern. Although Apple has made good with the release of the G5 and the Xserve, I wish they'd offer more "business class" options. iCal, Address Book, and Mail are great but seem a bit hokey. AppleWorks too. The recent release of Office 2004 has helped Apple in the corporate world but it's not sufficient.

I want an Apple branded PDA/Phone. Apparently it almost became reality as AppleInsider reported yesterday:

Jobs stated that he is proud not only of the products Apple has shipped, but also the products Apple has decided not to ship. When asked to elaborate, Jobs replied, "an Apple PDA."

During a Q&A session, one individual pleaded with Jobs (as he clenched his Treo), begging for Apple to produce a PDA/Phone hybrid. Jobs told the audience member it would be best to remain happy with his Treo.

Or I want Blackberry devices to become iSync compatible. It's 2004, I should be able to have my email, contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, with me all the time. In real time too, no more syncing bull.

I just got my T616 yesterday. It's OK for now. The Salling Clicker is great as is this gem.

On Jun.08.2004 at 01:40 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Jobs not releasing a PDA was a wise move. I've always wanted one, but the PDA market has been a saturated commodity market for some time. Sony just announced that they are exiting the market as well.

Apple has been focusing on the pro-line, mainly on pro video software. I think Apple has found that the graphic design market has been slow to embrace OSX and, as such, slow to upgrade to newer machines. It just hasn't been a growth area for apple, whereas the iPods have (though it can't ride that train forever...)

On Jun.08.2004 at 02:40 PM
Michael H’s comment is:

I hate to say it, but Stevie was right about the PDA thing. 6 months ago we were all saying he was crazy when he continued to refuse to ship one, but last week when Sony announced they would discontinue the Clié, I just said "Shit, how'd he know?" I've always felt the PDA was lacking a few things (due to lacking technology developments and adaptions) and was never a complete solution, but I still wanted an Apple PDA! Steve must have known that the PDA market would begin to deflate soon enough, but I can only imagine Apple is working on something that is the next step (or two) up from the common PDA as we know it now. Surely he recognizes the consumers' need for a personal, mobile, communications device... something like a small computer that will store a few gigs of data and that we can take with us anywhere that let's us IM, email, and talk on the go.

Oh yeah, but about the AirPort Express... woohoo!

On Jun.08.2004 at 04:05 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Apple has always been been two steps ahead of the rest of the pack, and even if i cannot afford a lot of the toys, i absolutely adore each of them - don't forget, Apple did release the Newton a long time ago (I believe the first PDA ever), and digital cameras too (remember the Quicktake 650 was a first fully portable digital camera available to the public a decade ago (with its whopping 640x480res!)), and even though they didnt invent WiFi, they were the first consumber company to release a working version of it - LCD moniters, standard CDRs, banishment of the floppydrive - Apple truly does lead the way for the entire computer market! And I've got a pretty good feeling that S Jobs understands that people dont just want a PDA, but they want a PDA/ blackberry/ cellphone/ iPod/ storage solution/ digicam, and it's straight up his alley (remember his plan for the digital hub?!) to give the people just that.

Moving on, it does suck that Apple doesnt have a larger business share (I cant believe are still afraid of a computer without an ALT button!) and though they're cleaning up in the digital video sector, it seems like DTP is slipping pretty hard - I couldn't believe the first time i found Deviantart.com and realized that people were actually using Win PCs for something other than solitare and MS Office - and Apple's relationship with Adobe cannot be helping the situation (First they build PDF support into the system and abandon Acrobat, then they squash Premiere with FCP, and now they're taking on AfterAffects with Motion - I think we're only a breathe away from Apple releasing its own Photomanipulation and/or page layout app, in which case there'll be a straight division betwix adobe users and apple users).

I think Apple will be fine, and it would be nice if one day they would show us power users some TLC and give us what we want instead of catering to the trendy teenyboppers who want their computers and iPods in pretty shiny colours, but Steve knows we're not going anywhere, so it's simply easier and more profitable to win new fans with iPods and lickable glowing buttons than to give us nerds uber geek boxes and hope we'll upgrade more than once every five years.

On Jun.08.2004 at 04:31 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I have 2 old PDAs I haven't touched in a over a year — a Handspring and a Sony Clie. At one point, I lived by them, but it didn't mean I really needed them.

Let's face it, the idea of a PDA is neat, but the practicality of use is low. It's sort of a computer, but not really. And it's too small to do more than quick touch-and-click work, yet too big and cumbersome to be as convenient and discreet as a mobile phone.

The hot thing right now are mini-PCs. Little handheld, flip screen modules that look like portable DVD players, but are full-function, 80GB computers. Imagine a 6" iBook. It could serve as a real business tool, with an expandable keyboard, and available peripherals such as a data projector. Imagine bringing a handheld mini-iBook (with WiFi) that has a built-in projector to a presentation meeting. How sweet that would be.

I still predict that Apple will evolve to something closer to Sony — providing top-end, consumer electronics products for home and personal. Like a home plasma HDTV that has WiFi, and can broadcast live TV, stored iTunes, streaming media, or stored TiVO programming. Wouldn't you buy that?

But first, have got to get my hands on a new Airport Express.

On Jun.08.2004 at 06:01 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Remember the first mini-pc, the Apple eMate?!

On Jun.08.2004 at 08:56 PM
len’s comment is:

i think this gadget is cool

and i can't wait to get one

but how many R&D dollars went into this that could have gone toward the g5 powerbook?

(i agree with mithc anf kmw)

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:10 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

but how many R&D dollars went into this that could have gone toward the g5 powerbook?

Well, that'd be IBM's R&D (Apple doesn't make their own chips).

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:35 AM
kyle j’s comment is:

This is an interesting article speculating on the future of Apple. I hope it doesn't become a reality...

On Jun.09.2004 at 08:50 AM
big steve’s comment is:

Woo Hoo! New 2.5ghzx2 G5s... on the wish list.

As far as the PBS article, I think the slogan is attributed to Jobs: "Apple, the company that's been going out of business for the past 25 years."

Sure, things got dark under Scully, but i think we'll be alright for now

On Jun.09.2004 at 10:06 AM
Brent’s comment is:

Sculley? I think Amelio should be the one to carry that "things got dark" torch.

2.5Ghz G5 - the s.o.b. is liquid cooled. damn.

On Jun.09.2004 at 10:58 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Btw, I read an article a few months ago that said the one piece of technology that's holding back G5 laptops and 2.5Ghz processors is battery technology. The faster the processor, the faster and greater the power demand is. And batteries just can't keep up with power demands.

Anyone can make the superlaptop, but no one can make a battery that will drive it for more than 10 minutes. Which would make it impractical and unusable.

On Jun.09.2004 at 12:08 PM
Aaron’s comment is:

..."business class" options. iCal, Address Book, and Mail are great but seem a bit hokey.

I thought so at first, but after using Entourage for the past two years i suffered a brutal crash when a printer e-mailed me THREE 40mb PDF proofs. (I was using Office X btw, not 2004). Since then I've imported everything over to Mail, Address Book, and iCal, and while there are a few formatting options that I miss from Entourage, it really is a GREAT suite of apps. I also gave .mac a try with the free 60 day trial and I'm pretty impressed with that as well. With the click of a button I can sync my home Mac with my work Mac (updating my address book, calendar, and Safari bookmarks daily as I make changes) and I can view it all online among many other things. Not bad.

As far as the gripes about PDA's, the iPod (at least my 2nd gen) pretty much serves the basic purpose. It integrates nicely with all of the Apple apps and all of the aforementioned information can be sync'd to it so I have it with me anywhere. Speculation is that the 4th gen iPods will have video capabilities, so who knows, maybe Tan's dream will come true. If anything, I wouldn't be surprised if the professional capabilites became more robust. It's also interesting to note that Apple made a separate division for all things iPod related, I imagine to push the limits of that product and not take away from everything else they make.

Has anyone read up on man made diamonds? I found it interesting that they may replace silicon chips, and therefore enable processors to operate at speeds and temeratures that would make a silicon chip melt.

Back on topic, I can't wait to get one of these gadgets either. Apple rules, and sadly, if they ever went out of business i think i might freak out.

On Jun.09.2004 at 12:18 PM
Josh’s comment is:

Jobs has done it again?? What? There is really nothing special or innovative about the airport express. Maybe if it streamed video as well as audio I’d be impressed. That’s what I want to go with upcoming video on demand from Netflix and Blockbuster. It’s simply a refined Airpot. That isn’t innovative.

On Jun.09.2004 at 12:44 PM
big steve’s comment is:

Brent, i was slippin, but you're totally right about amelio. he sucked.

Tan, there are a couple of things that are problematic with a suberfast laptop.

-Battery. you're totally right, big chips and processor intensive apps suck power, and no one wants a 30min laptop or to carry around a backpack battery for their powerbook.

-Heat. these chips run extremely hot, and without the necessary space/hardware you cannot keep them cool enough to work. Ignoring the fact that the computer would puke out right away without necessary cooling, you'd melt your dick off.

-fabrication. there was supposed to be a 3ghz g5 by now, but to do so they've gotta work on a smaller scale, and they havent been able to perfect production yet. You can see how big the chips are by looking at any g5 diagram - they'd never fit into a laptop (then the heatsinks, which go back to temp control).

On Jun.09.2004 at 04:29 PM
Rick’s comment is:

you'd melt your dick off.

Now there's a phrase I've never seen before...

On Jun.09.2004 at 06:52 PM
David’s comment is:

i wonder if there is starting to be a real paradigm shift within Apple; it usted to be a sexy marriage between pro and consumer but lately it feels like 90% of Apple is completely consumer consumer, and if makes me wonder where thier 'pro' products will be in a few years.

I'd say that 90% of Apple marketing is consumer consumer consumer. The product line retains its professional side - consider the XServe, Apple's first respectable server since about 1996, and Apple's aggressive buyouts in audio and video. (I have this vague memory that even Final Cut started life outside of Apple.)

But digital video is a young field. Seems to me that computer-aided graphic design reached maturity a few years back.

Can Apple really do much to help the 2D graphic design crowd? They build fast, extensible computers, ship a stable operating system with good color matching support, and make all of this easy to run with minimal professional support.

On Jun.10.2004 at 09:01 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

It’s simply a refined Airpot. That isn’t innovative.

But its size is.

I have this vague memory that even Final Cut started life outside of Apple.

I *think* apple had hired the former Premiere team to write FCP.

Can Apple really do much to help the 2D graphic design crowd?

I agree. The graphic design field isn't really clamoring for the latest and greatest. If the machine can run Photoshop and Illustrator, most folks are happy. My last design firm I worked at, my Boss was still on OS7 (drove me nuts) but that's the reality of the market ;o)

On Jun.10.2004 at 10:00 AM
ben’s comment is:

no, its not a refined Airport basestation...you can't plug it into a router and expect it to create multiple ip addresses.

yes, Final Cut Pro was created from the people who were responsible for Premiere, which at the time was (ironically) licensed by Macromedia

On Jun.11.2004 at 12:44 AM
Magnus’s comment is:

The graphic design field isn't really clamoring for the latest and greatest. If the machine can run Photoshop and Illustrator, most folks are happy.

is that correct? i almost get physically sick if i can't get the latest macs the minute they are available. it's like an addiction. same goes for softwareupdates.

On Jun.13.2004 at 04:43 PM