Time Capsule = cash grab?

Time Capsule = cash grab?

Summary: Time Capsule is one of Apple's featured new product announcements at last week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Time Capsule is basically an Airport Extreme WiFi base station (US$179) with either a 500GB (US$299) or 1TB (US$499) hard drive built-in.


Time Capsule = cash grab?

Time Capsule is one of Apple's featured new product announcements at last week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Time Capsule is basically an Airport Extreme WiFi base station (US$179) with either a 500GB (US$299) or 1TB (US$499) hard drive built-in. Time Capsule will begin shipping in February and is being pitched as the ultimate companion to Leopard's Time Machine backup software:

Automatic backup

Time Capsule is a revolutionary backup device that works wirelessly with Time Machine in Mac OS X Leopard. It automatically backs up everything, so you no longer have to worry about losing your digital life.

My problem with Time Capsule is that it's being billed as the ultimate Time Machine backup appliance when that was the original intent of the Airport Extreme's Airport Disk feature:

Hard drive sharing

AirPort Extreme lets you turn your external USB hard drive into a drive you can share with all the users on your network. It’s called AirPort Disk, and it’s a simple and convenient way to share files among everyone in your family, office, or class.

Steve Jobs, speaking at the WWDC 2007 keynote address, promised that we'd be able to use an Airport Extreme with Airport Disk to back up wirelessly using Time Machine (it appears at the 1:42 mark in this YouTube video).

Although that feature was enabled in the developer builds Apple unceremoniously removed it when Leopard shipped. According to Apple's knowledge base Article: 306833:

Time Machine in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard can be used to back up to many kinds of Mac OS Extended-formatted drives, but it does not support AirPort Extreme's AirPort Disk feature.

If Time Machine backups to Airport Disk were promised by Jobs and enabled in developer builds of Leopard, why was the feature dropped at the last minute? Did Apple simply want to sell more pricey hard drives in Time Capsules rather than letting Airport Extreme customers purchase their own USB hard drives?

I was hoping that the feature would be enabled in the forthcoming 10.5.2 software update but a source testing it with the latest developer build confirms that Apple has intentionally crippled the feature in an apparent move to sell more expensive Time Capsules.

I would recommend not buying a Time Capsule until Apple comes clean on this issue.

[poll id=89]

Topics: Software Development, Apple, Data Management, Hardware, Operating Systems

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  • Maybe, Maybe not.

    That's a good theory. I remember hearing that this feature was taken out because it
    was still giving Leopard a kernel panic. I guess that wasn't true :-)
    • Whether kernel panic or not, apple should come clean

      There are 1000 and 1 reasons why the feature is taken out. Whatever the reason, if indeed there is incompatibility, then Apple should come clean with the reason.

      If it indeed give Leopard a kernel panic, imho unlikely (see next para), then that should be resolved.

      Personally, I cannot see why tunneling USB over WiFi is a problem. Especially given that MacBook Air proposes this as a solution to steal DVD drive from some other computer.
    • Not a panic, but data integrity...

      is the issue. The airport firmware would need updating in all previously sold units.
      Airport tells Time Machine that the data was correctly received by the airport, but not
      necessarily that it was actually written correctly to the USB disk drive. There is a
      possibility of data loss or corruption. Now we don't want that, do we? Hard disks have
      meanwhile gotten ever more spacious. So Apple decided to put on inside what is
      essentially the mini box revisited.
  • I thought Adrian was nuts when he bragged about this

  • All Apple Product are

    shameless cash grab. Apple consumers a know for their tiny brain and extremly large wallet. Apple was buit on those facts.
  • RE: Time Capsule = cash grab?

    Let's look at the publicly available information.

    a) New product delayed until February.
    b) 10.5.2 update in February.
    c) Fixes in 10.5.2 are rumored to include
    support for *all* networked drives in Time
    d) Clearly Apple could have shipped this
    product at the same time as 10.5.0 had they
    wanted to.

    Let's make some reasonable guesses.

    Huh, maybe just maybe the delay is due to the
    fact that Time Machine didn't work reliably with
    networked drives. Instead of releasing buggy
    software like *cough* *cough* some vendors,
    Apple decided to delay shipping the feature and
    the hardware device until support was reliable.
    Maybe they pulled the feature from 10.5.0 and
    didn't include it in 10.5.1 because it was still
    buggy. Maybe they didn't make any
    announcement about it since they weren't sure
    *when* it would work. Maybe they now have it
    almost working, so they went ahead and
    announced Time Capsule MWSF future
    availability and will put networked Time
    Machine support back into 10.5.2 and ship
    Time Capsule after the release of 10.5.2.
    Maybe network support it will only be enabled
    in the 10.5.2 betas when it actually works.
    Maybe that's what's holding up a 10.5.2 release.

    Just a theory.

    Or you could believe that Apple was trying to
    rip people off by forcing them to buy a product
    that will ship in the *snicker* tens of thousands
    *end snicker* -- product that they've obviously
    delayed. Yep, that's the way old Stevie has
    made his billions, 300 bucks at a time, six-
    months late.

      "Instead of releasing buggy software like *cough* *cough* some vendors,..."

      You mean, like Quicktime?
      Confused by religion


        "You mean, like Quicktime?"

        Or like OS X 10.5.0?
        M.R. Kennedy
    • Or maybe you are over appologizing

      for Apple?

      Why make excuses for Jobs? Would he do the same for you?
    • If that were only true!

      "Instead of releasing buggy software like *cough* *cough* some vendors, Apple decided to delay shipping the feature and
      the hardware device until support was reliable."

      If that were only true you would still be waiting for Leapord to relese!
      • and vista would be only a few years behind that if ever...

        that being said I don't agree with the original poster guessing at Apple's intentions.

        I don't think people should throw stones at Leopard when they have Windows ;-)
        • There were almost as many negative ....

          ... articles about Leapord as there was about Vista which is extrairdinary considering the smaller penetration. I wouldn't poke fun at Vista if I was running Leapord!
  • Wait and see

    The problem with the current Airport Extreme + Airport disk is that it has
    performance and reliability problems. If you read the user discussions on
    discussions.apple.com, you'll see that the AFP shares get randomly disconnected
    with the latest firmware. Furthermore, the new Gigabit version cannot be
    downgraded to the older firmware. This is why I use my Airport Extreme for
    802.11n only, and I use a LaCie Gigabit NAS for shared storage.

    And even if you fix the reliability problems, the Airport Disk is still fairly slow.

    The dream of NAS is great. I'm still waiting for the reliability and performance to
    improve. If AirDisk or Time Capsule work as well as promised, they will be great
    products. Until then, I'm stuck with an expensive, large and noisy NAS.
  • Duhhhh!

    Corporations are about the Benjamins. Apple is no different.
  • I can tell this is truly heinous of Apple

    Not even the standard "RAH RAH GO APPLE" posters have been able to come up with an apology good enough for this fiasco. I can just hear them now:
    [i]Please, please, please, let this story fall off the blog page![/i] :)
    • Nothing to apologise

      Pointless flaming once again.

      Nothing more to say. There's quite clearly some issues with the funtionality and until Time Capsule even hits the shelves it's pointless to say Apple would be trying to cash in on it.

      Most likely there'll be an update enabling the use of other disks with Airport so that the same functionality is available as with Time Capsule. And when that's available Time Capsule will be available.
  • RE: Time Capsule = cash grab?

    Maybe it's a cash grab. The circumstantial evidence says so. But
    on the other hand, one thing about USB2 drives is they are way,
    way slower than their specification says they are. If Airport
    Extreme had Firewire, I would say it's more likely a cash grab.
    Then you could argue there isn't a problem with the speed of
    USB2 getting in the way of Time Machine working quickly

    Did those people who were testing the original feature say
    whether the speed or reliability of a USB2 connection on Airport
    Extreme was fast enough? (Keeping in mind it was beta at the

    On the other hand, a hard drive built into Time Capsule at least
    gives them the ability to bypass the slowness of the USB2 port.
    But then, why couldn't they just tell people to hook up a NAS
    device to the gigabit ethernet port on the Airport Extreme?

    It's all a bit fishy. Why doesn't some hacker out there come up
    with a bypass and let people hook an external drive (or RAID?)
    to an Airport Extreme via the gigabit ethernet?
  • yes, it's a cash grab, but I still think it's worth it... (nt)

  • Are you the socialist ethical police or something?

    You write for ZDNet.com, a glass house of inflammatory articles designed to keep revenue up and intelligent intercourse down.

    As they say, people who live in glass houses....