back to article Stock dips as fanbois complain of dodgy Wi-Fi on MacBook Air

Apple is investigating claims that new Macbook Air notebooks are suffering from crippling Wi-Fi connection problems. Cupertino's latest creation, the Macbook Air, boasts an epic battery life, but customers are reporting terrible Wi-Fi problems. Apple has reportedly confirmed the problems, in a briefing note to shop staff seen …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not the first time

    we run a guest wireless network in the lab where I work mainly for visiting scientists and students etc, The top troublesome laptops we have issues with connecting to our AP's (All cisco WAP 200/2000's) Apple's, so this is nothing new

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: not the first time

      Yep, my MBA (late 2011) is always the first to drop/last to connect, and most persistent in trying to attach to the wrong access point (no matter how many times I try and stop it, delete that point in settings etc etc) out of quite a variety of hardware.

      Maybe I'm holding it wrong.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not the first time

      Rule of thumb buying Apple products, Give them 4-6 weeks so these kinds of problems are detected by others. Then buy if seems ok/fixed. Apple very rarely offer discount as the models grow older and the refresh becomes imminent so no point waiting. Although always amazes me how many of the Apple faithful pay full price for a device that's almost EOL (e.g. the current MBP models).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You need to buy refurbished

        That can normally get you a good 20% off if you wait for the right moment. Still comes with warranty.

  2. mrdalliard
    Meh

    Apple seems to have had a history on this.

    I've never really understood why so many Apple devices have WiFi troubles. There seems to have been a history of it on a multitude of devices (mostly iOS).

    That said, I got my 13-inch Air last week and have had no problems at all. The battery life is indeed awesome, as is the 8-second bootup time and general performance. I'm not saying there's not a problem, just that it must affect a percentage of machines. Expect a Mac OS X update very shortly......

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

      No problem, just plug in the Ethernet cable!

      Oh wait...

      1. MrXavia
        Holmes

        Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

        Yup, so many MacBook Air owners I know use an ethernet adaptor! a missing ethernet port is understandable though, the computer is not deep enough for it! but including an adaptor in the box would have been nice...

        the glaring omission is a kensington lock!!!! create a thin lightweight laptop that is very practical BUT don't provide a way to secure it? how DUMB are people at apple? I am sure they must live in glass towers where no one would think to nick a laptop....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

          >a missing ethernet port is understandable though, the computer is not deep enough for it!

          It's understandable when your design rationale is all about making things thin, rather than say, utility.

          >the glaring omission is a kensington lock!!!! .. how DUMB are people at apple?

          Dumb is spending money on a Kensington license and extra tooling for something which ultimately loses you money - each MacBook Air theft prevented is the sale of a replacement device lost.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

            Kensington locks only stop the extremely casual thief.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

              Kensington locks only stop the extremely casual thief.

              So all they need to is wear a suit? Sjeez.

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

          @MrXavia;

          Seriously? No Kensington lock?

          I spend half my life in different countries giving seminars, so would have ended up in the US next week faced with a very unpleasant surprise (having to unplug my brand new laptop from the podium and take it with me every coffee break).

          If true you've just saved me from making a huge mistake. I was planning to go to the Apple store this afternoon to buy an MBA to replace my MacBook, would never even have thought to ask if it had a Kensington slot. For my particular use case no Kensington slot is an absolute deal breaker, and I always thought it was like an airbag on a car; it's simply expected.

          Thank you sir.

        3. Pookietoo

          Re: the glaring omission is a kensington lock

          Kensington will sell you a SafeDock for £99 that also angles the keyboard more ergonomically. But it makes the thin shiny rather thick.

      2. Steveo119

        Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

        Then run the cd rom drivers as supplied? Lol

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

      Apple probably suffers from complaints because of their aluminium fetish. Putting a computer into a metal case might be a good excuse to slap a premium onto the retail price but it can't be very beneficial for wifi reception. They're not the only manufacturers to suffer this issue (e.g. Asus Transformer Prime had serious wifi issues), but given their high profile they're certainly the ones who get the most attention when it happens.

      1. theblackhand
        Meh

        Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

        Re: metal cases

        My experience with Apple WiFi (and all Apple networking) is that it is usually a driver issue rather than a hardware issue. They exhibit connectivity problems when 3-4 feet away from an AP.

        Apple tend to be very aggressive on power saving which causes problems with older WiFi units - usually a firmware update on the Wifi makes them more tolerant of Apple devices, but they never seem to work as reliably as their competitors if you have multiple Wifi AP's and anything requiring RADIUS authentication (i.e. enterprise level...).

      2. Greg J Preece

        Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

        Putting a computer into a metal case might be a good excuse to slap a premium onto the retail price but it can't be very beneficial for wifi reception.

        No, but it does allow you to keep using your unbelievably shit cooling methods that don't put any unsightly vents into the body - just dump heat into the casing! ;-)

        http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/01/30

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

      Well it's often been down to antenna problems in the past. Having grounded aluminium is like putting an antenna inside a faraday cage.

      Of course with full signal this isn't the issue here, more likely that the protocol and standard is a little two bleeding edge for some routers.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Apple seems to have had a history on this.

      "Expect a Mac OS X update very shortly......"

      Which will break my Wi-Fi. Again.

  3. Andrew Moore
    Unhappy

    So...

    The MacBooks are now just as crap to connecting to wifi as their iDevice stable-mates...

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: So...

      You're implying there was a time when macbooks didn't have inferior wifi, in my experience their wifi has always been substandard.

  4. Anomalous Cowshed

    At last, something epic

    The great host of Geniuses were gathered together silently to hear their masters order them to capture the MacBook Airs.

    They were the elite frontline troops. And now they would have to use their tremendous minds and outstanding hunting skills against an unwieldy foe.

    It was an awesome endeavour, for the MacBook Airs were known to hide in the most inaccessible places, and given their thinness, would be fiendishly difficult to find. They were also fearsome beasts, due to the sharpness of their elongated beaks that could inflict serious injuries in anyone bold enough to seek them out in their lairs.

    But that was to reckon without the great minds of these Geniuses, who had been drilled for years and kept in reserve precisely for such an emergency. Now word had gone out that the MacBook Airs needed to be captured, and captured they would be, regardless of the cost.

    The Chronicles of the Silver Apple, Chapter 802 verse 11 a/b/g/n

    1. JoshOvki
      FAIL

      Re: At last, something epic

      and there was me just expecting them to be chasing them around with a net!

      1. Anomalous Cowshed

        @ JoshOvki

        Sir, I know you not. You may most likely be a genius, but if so, with a small 'g'. These are certified Geniuses with a big 'G'. Trust them to know what to do and do not put yourself at risk. Capturing the MacBook Air is a dangerous task, best left to professionals.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: @ JoshOvki

          Nice to know I'm not the only one who had that mental image.

          Just picture the scared and wounded MacBook surrounded and in a corner, snarling at the circling Geniuses and trying to avoid their nets and pointy sticks.

          Then it's bagged, crated and rushed off to a hidden warehouse somewhere where its very existence can be plausibly denied.

          1. Anomalous Cowshed

            Re: @ JoshOvki

            Yes and then, being Geniuses, they can then invoke Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to help ward off any investigations by the disconsolate owner into the whereabouts of the captured MacBook Air.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: @ JoshOvki

          "MacBook Air is a dangerous task, best left to professionals."

          your kidding right?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Headmaster

            Re: your kidding

            No... his kidding

    2. stanimir
      Thumb Up

      Re: At last, something epic

      Imagine the pathos when read in Benny Hill chase theme music.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: At last, something epic

        @stanimir - you sir owe me the remainder of todays work that I'm now not going to be able to concentrate on with that mental image and soundtrack in my head :) So all in all about 3 cents worth ;)

        *wanders off humming Yakety Sax*

    3. PaulR79

      Re: At last, something epic

      I still don't understand why the camera operators don't intervene and stop the poor MBAs from being captured.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: At last, something epic

      Apple Geniuses - Only They have the skills to pick the box from the cupboard and ring it through the point of sale. Only They know how to up sell you a warranty which you are statutorily entitled to under EU law anyway. Only They know which form to fill and which padded bag to use when submitting a device for servicing. Only They have a Secret Room with the tools for swapping out batteries or other trivial onsite repairs. Only They are the elite of the retail and sales sector shopping experience

      Prostrate yourself before the Geniuses. And dare ye not compare them to the Knowhow paeons who work for the false god PC World.

  5. Matthew 25
    Joke

    There is no problem

    People are just holding it wrong.

    1. g e
      Facepalm

      Re: There is no problem

      They opened the lid/screen at the wrong angle.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        Re: There is no problem

        Saint Jobs wanted you to spend more time creating documents with the fabulous iWork office suite and less time wasting your life on the google-webs.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: There is no problem

          That's why He invented iCloud.

    2. Squander Two
      Devil

      "People are just holding it wrong."

      Surely Apple can fix this with a software update.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's something magical when a product...just works. Except when it doesn't.

  7. g e
    Meh

    Ah well

    Just as well Timmy took a performance related pay-stock-money thingy then.

    Still, half of absolutely-fecking-loadsa-money is still fecking-loadsa-money so he'll be laughing all the way to Belize the bank regardless.

  8. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

    ..............strange and Apple Corp are no exception, indeed it can be argued that they are amongst the worst with this kind of attitude.

    "The Register has not been able to verify the existence of this note, as Apple's UK tentacle is being tight-lipped about the situation, but the wording suggests the fruity firm is taking the problem seriously."

    You have a problem: Identify, assess, reassure and rectify. Customer relations 101. They do have a problem - that much is clear. Why is it that a company which has a very considerable reputation for their marketing skills does not seem to see that admitting immediately that the problem exists and reassuring customers that they are "on the case" would earn them far more kudos than their usual behaviour which appears to be an attempt to "out-Kremlin" the Kremlin when it comes to being unwilling to communicate?

    1. Salts

      Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

      @Arctic fox

      Yes, but if you believe you are the Rolls Royce of the computer industry how could your ego ever let you be wrong, have a design fault, let alone admit it.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

        Rolls Royce or a Fiat X19?

        More attention to Form than Function.

    2. DZ-Jay

      Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

      Because it doesn't work as you say.

      Case in point: "AntennaGate" and Jobs response. The company maintained secrecy and admitted to nothing, and when Jobs finally came out to say something, he was assertive and direct, and told everybody how it was all blown out of proportion, and that it was a common problem to all mobile phones.

      Do you recall what happened next? The problem went away. It was no longer in the news and only the hard-core anti-Appleist continued to talk about it. The public relations imbroglio was diffused, and the conversation changed to the next Internet meme.

      Most of the time, Apple never responds to those issues publicly, and eventually they go away just the same.

      Contrast this against the "iOS Map Incident" and Cook's response. Cook came out with his tail between his legs, crying mea culpa at the media and the masses, admitting the error of their ways while begging profusely for forgiveness, and promising to make it all better.

      And what was the result of that? To this day, whenever Apple is in the headlines of any newspaper or online publication--especially if it's due to a problem--they seldom fail to mention the "recent problems with the release of their mapping application," and proceed to make a comparison. The conversation changed to focus on Apple being in a precarious position of weakness, and their serious problems at product releases.

      Right or wrong, "AntennaGate" went out of the public sphere of discussion, while "MapGate," being a self-admitted public defeat, remains a point of attack forever.

      You should go back to Customer Relations 101, and review your notes. Then offer some pointers to Cook as well.

      -dZ.

      1. Tyson Key
        Mushroom

        Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

        Meh, don't forget the "iScratch Nano" fiasco.

      2. Squander Two

        Re: I have always found "BigCorp's" paranoia when dealing with customer complaints very.......

        I think you're confusing customer relations with media relations here. Yes, Apple have figured out that bare-faced arrogance works wonders on the media narrative, as the media, for some reason, are obsessed with U-turns and blame rather than how effectively problems are fixed. But this doesn't work on individual customers. Funnily enough, an iPhone-owning colleague of mine mentioned just the other day that his phone still loses reception if he touches the wrong spot and laughed about how ludicrous Apple's response had been (a software update to fix a hardware fault? Really?) And screwing your customers does have an effect on customer loyalty, obviously. Yes, there appear to be legions of die-hard Apple fanatics who always go with the firm's preferred media narrative no matter what evidence to the contrary, but Apple have become successful by selling to everyone else, not just the obsessives.

        I for one used to buy Apple and no longer do, and the main reason is the utter contempt the company has for its customers. I base this judgement on how they actually treat people, not on how often the media use the word "fiasco" about them.

        1. Arctic fox
          Headmaster

          Re:I think you're confusing customer relations with media relations here.............

          No, Squander Two I wasn't - I was quite specifically thinking and writing about Apple's relationship with its customers and how it manages that relationship. Other than that reservation, I entirely agree with the rest of your post. :)

          1. Squander Two

            Re: Re:I think you're confusing customer relations with media relations here.............

            Sorry, I was replying to DZ-Jay. I entirely agreed with your post, Mr Fox.

            1. Arctic fox
              Happy

              Re: Re:I think you're confusing customer relations with media relations here.............

              No problem - I've gotten my wires crossed in that fashion a few times myself!

              :)

              AF.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fruity fruity fruity

    "...the fruity firm is taking the problem seriously.

    The fruity firm's.."

    Come ON Reg. Think of something new, or at least not use this crappy description of Apple twice in every story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fruity fruity fruity

      Nah. We need more fruit.

    2. Gazareth

      Re: Fruity fruity fruity

      I always liked 'the Foxconn rebadging firm'

      Although there's a lot that could be described the same way!

  10. Neill Mitchell

    Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air

    Are they going to use a net?

    1. Jack Project

      Re: Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air

      .net maybe?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air

      The problem with using a net is that the Airs appear to find it very easy to drop out.

  11. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Trollface

    Fruity, Fruity Fruity Fruit Fruit,.....

    Yeah, perhaps references to their output could be sharp as a Granny Smith or truly Golden Delicious, and only to be used when in the Buff with a Pink Lady.

    My favourite apple in this context is the Enterprise Apple : A modern American late-season disease-resistant apple with a sharp flavor and good keeping qualities.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely they could use the 'Find my Mac' option?

    1. Darryl

      Probably not, because the Mac won't be connected to the interwebz, as it will have dropped its wireless connection

  13. Mark Broadhurst
    Thumb Down

    Apple it just works

    Execpt when it doesnt and then your stuffed and have to send it away (normally for a premium).

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Colin Millar
    Boffin

    Its simple

    Apple have decided that as radio waves are curvy they are in breach of their IP rights and have decided to refuse them access to their equipment.

    1. Thomas Whipp

      Re: Its simple

      thats right - they are a "sin"

    2. Simon Harris

      Re: Its simple

      "Apple have decided that as radio waves are curvy they are in breach of their IP rights and have decided to refuse them access to their equipment."

      It's a real dilemma...

      broadcast sine waves with their rounded corners and incur the wrath of Apple...

      or

      broadcast square waves with all those nasty harmonics and incur the wrath of the FCC (or Ofcom or whoever)

  16. Alan Denman

    The ecosystem at works again.

    Obviously it just works on a bona fide Apple router near you.

    I'm obviously being ecosystem with the truth.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    What really weirds me out when discussing this and similar wifi issues with apple products, is the question of testing.

    I mean these are new products where problems occur for a fairly sizeable minority of users. This leads me to believe that apple does a tiny amount of testing - either they have a very small sample of testers or they test for a very short period.

    The same applies to every scenario where they put out a new product or a software update, only to have a few thousand complaints in the first week.

    Personally I have 2012 MBA, which is just barely OK on wifi (definitely not as good as it should be) but not as bad as the problems with the new one. It does however have its share of bugs with hibernation and sleep, so as much as I like it, it doesn't quite pass the "it just works" test...

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Or they test with a limited and manageable amount of hardware. If you are testing wifi how much of your budget do you want to blow on the multitude of wifi routers and APs available? If you are aiming at the consumer market do you spend much time worrying about Enterprise features working fully and delay release to market?

      While chipsets may be the same, manufacturer software in APs isn't so you can't even say it works against a specific bunch of chipsets.

      Our new office AP wouldn't work with the Nexus 4 until a software update was applied, other brands used to test worked fine even though they were older. This time it was fixable in the AP, sometimes the only fix is in the device hardware or software.

      The 1st Gen Dell xps 13 Developer Laptop suffered wifi conectivity issues, don't know about the latest one. The Linux guys working for Dell then asked for details about make/model of AP, log dumps of the traffic where necessary, because in most cases they couldn't reproduce the problem with the equipment they had.

      It's easy to say don't they test this product properly, but when your clients can buy any cheap POS, or be provided with any cheap POS by their internet provider and you needed levels of test coverage that are simple to reach in software testing, the laptop would never leave testing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        furry muff. BUT from our experience Apple products do seem to be the worst offenders and as they have a pretty small and totally controlled set of hardware that they sell it’s a pretty poor show.

        1. Darryl

          I'd guess the extent of WiFi testing on Apple products is "Does it connect to this AirPort and this TimeCapsule?"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Standards?

        And there I was thinking that's what standards are for.

        Silly me.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anomalous Cowshed

    MacBook Air Capture procedure - exclusive!!!

    Oy, you there! Come 'ere!

    Are you a Macbook Air?

    Er...me? No I'm a mockbook air, not a real MacBook air.

    Oh, yeah? Let me see...no Ethernet Port? Non-removable battery? Just TWO USB ports? You're taking the piss of what? <smack>

    Ok, I confess! I am a MacBook Air...

    I knew it! You're nicked! - Sir! Sir? I've captured one!

    Well done Genius Jones. Now send in Genius Smith for the interrogation, to find out if it qualifies for capture!

    Yes Sir!

    THE END

  20. Greg J Preece

    Had 2 Mac laptops, a Macbook and a Pro, and both have shitty wireless connectivity. At the office, it's simply unusable, unless you like dropping and reconnecting all your SSH sessions every five minutes. Worst part is, it doesn't matter what OS I run; it still sucks.

  21. Greg J Preece

    I just went and took a look at the Apple stock history. They've lost nearly half the value of the company since October? To be honest, I think that's a clear indication of how much of their value is based on hype and advertising. With the demise of the Dear Leader, and then their continued failure to actually bring anything new & interesting to the table, people are starting to admit that maybe the iPhone wasn't as awesome as they made it out to be.

    If you're a tech company that ties all your value to your image, and the fashion changes, you're knackered.

  22. MrNo
    WTF?

    The stock went down due to Wi-Fi problems on one of their models ...

    The stability of the stock market today is amazing.

  23. Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics

    Um, my new MBA seems to work OK

    Have been mostly using it on home office WiFi and with Huawei MiFi box, but not seeing the same problems as I was with an older MacBook Pro, which was (still is) very flakey in the same environment. Is this supposed to be a problem with just some of the new MBAs or all of them? If the latter, then perhaps I need to do some more methodical testing.

    WRT to the machine itself, I have to say that it is living up to the battery life claims - I have the i7 version and getting at least 10 hours on a single charge doing everyday office type stuff.

  24. MDSysAdmin

    Old News

    This is old news to MacBook Air users. My 2012 mid year MBA has the exact same issue. I doubt it's related to 802.11ac - just a new outcry for the same issue that has not gotten a response from Apple yet. The following thread has 53 pages of complaints going back to 2010! http://goo.gl/aiC47

  25. sealow08

    Why?

    Why are only the "fanbois" suffering "dodgy wifi"? Surely other Apple customers with new MacBook Airs are also suffering from the same complaint?

    You mean the computer can detect if you've paid your fanbois membership fee or not? Astonishing - especially with the dodgy wifi connection.

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