Apple sells over 150,000 AirPort Extreme products

Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday announced that the company has sold more than 150,000 AirPort Extreme wireless networking products. Introduced during Macworld Expo San Francisco, AirPort Extreme is Apple’s implementation of the IEEE 802.11g standard.

“There is no doubt that 802.11g is the way to go,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Hardware Product Marketing, told MacCentral. “It offers the combination that customers want: the capability to go faster and the compatibility with 802.11b.”

Jozwiak credited the success of 802.11g, in part, to Apple’s new 12- and 17-inch PowerBooks. “We are doing very well with our new portables and they are driving adoption since they are based on 802.11g,” said Jozwiak.

In March, market research firm Gartner Inc. warned companies to hold off on making investments in 802.11g wireless LAN technology until products can be properly certified by the nonprofit Wi-Fi Alliance.

Jumping on the 802.11g bandwagon may result in interoperability problems with other 802.11g devices, as well as older 802.11b wireless LAN technology, Gartner said.

But Joswiak doesn’t see a problem with the specification, which should be finalized by mid-year. No major changes are planned for the 802.11g specification that would cause incompatibilities with products that are currently being produced by Apple or other companies.

Currently there are several wireless networking technologies: 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11a. The 802.11b technology operates on the 2.4GHz band and runs at 11Mbps; 802.11g, which is compatible with 802.11b, also runs on the 2.4GHz band, but can run at speeds at 54Mbps; and 802.11a runs on the 5GHz range and can also achieve speeds of 54Mbps. However, 802.11a is not backward compatible with either of the other technologies.

For this reason, Apple choose to support the more compatible 802.11g as the next generation specification for wireless networking. This allows education customers and the many wireless hotspots to keep their existing infrastructure and still support new computers that come equipped with 802.11g cards.

“Last year the industry tried to push 802.11a — an incompatible technology (with 802.11b) — and it met with no customer success,” said Joswiak. “Estimates of sales are 100,000 to 150,000 sales for the entire 802.11a industry last year; we more than equaled that ourselves in less than a quarter with 802.11g.”

Besides faster throughput, the AirPort Extreme Base Station also offers users wireless printing, with a built-in USB port.

AirPort Extreme is available on the 17-inch PowerBook, 12-inch PowerBook, 17-inch flat-screen iMac and new Power Mac G4 desktops.

“We see ourselves having a role in the industry,” said Joswiak. “We were the first company to launch 802.11b back in 1999 when it was not clear what would be the best technology. We knew if we told the story correctly we could drive that to be an industry success, and that’s exactly what happened. It was very clear to us what the best technology was in the wireless space for the next generation: 802.11g. We feel the same way — if we can tell the story very clearly and help lead the way, this will become the next generation standard for the wireless industry. I think we are well on our way to making that happen.”

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