Wi-Fi Woes in New MacBook Airs Latest Blemish for Apple
Apple’s latest revision to its super popular line of MacBook Air notebook computers garnered mostly rave reviews, but customers are finding that a cutting-edge wireless feature may not be ready for widespread use.
The new line, on sale since June 10, includes the very latest flavor of Wi-Fi, known as 802.11ac. The ‘ac’ standard is supposed to allow wireless connections up to three times faster than the previous 802.11n standard.
But Apple customers have posted hundreds of messages on the MacBook Air discussion section of the company’s web site, complaining about mysterious disconnections and slow service. Some say they have had their laptops replaced by Apple or been contacted by Apple engineers working to isolate the problem.
The web site 9to5Mac reported that Apple stores have been given a directive to “capture” misbehaving MacBook Airs brought in for service.
Apple has not issued a statement yet. Problems seem most acute for customers connecting to older Wi-Fi base stations, and some have resolved the issue by updating the firmware on these stations.
It’s a given that Wi-Fi connectivity is one of the top features laptop buyers need. And the rising volume of complaints comes at a difficult time for Apple, which is trying to prove to investors that it can regain momentum.
Apple shares dipped below $400 on Monday for the first time since December 2011, and have lost 25% so far this year, despite a massive buyback and dividend plan announced in April. Another misstep won’t help regain investor confidence.
The Wi-Fi snafu also raises memories of Apple’s last major wireless fiasco – the iPhone 4 reception controversy known as Antennagate.
Within days after the iPhone 4 was released in June 2010, customers started complaining about lost reception if they held their hand over parts of the phone. Then-CEO Steve Jobs famously sent off one of his terse emails, advising users to “just avoid holding it that way.”