Consumer electronics and computer components on average don’t last more than a handful of years before they’re obsolete and we’re itching to replace them. That’s not always the case, however, as some rare breeds manage to sidestep father time and live on long past their expiration date.
Case in point is the Linksys WRT54GL, a wireless router first released in 2005. What’s noteworthy about the WRT54GL is the fact that it’s still on sale to this day, generating millions in revenue each year.
As Ars Technica highlights, the WRT54GL uses the 802.11 g Wi-Fi standard which has since taken a back seat to 802.11 n and 802.11 ac. What’s more, it only operates on the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band with speeds limited to just 54Mbps. These days, you can get a new dual-band router with modern standards and much faster transfer rates for less money.
So, why is the WRT54GL still selling after 11 years and no spec or design changes? That’s a good question.
Linksys Global Product Manager Vince La Duca said that to be honest, it somewhat baffles his mind. But, as long as people keep buying it, they’ll keep building it, he added. That, of course, is assuming that suppliers like Broadcom continue to sell the parts needed to construct the router.
If he had to pin it down, however, La Duca believes reliability, name recognition and its support of open source firmware to unlock more advanced capabilities all contribute to its continued success. Indeed, many users replace the Linksys firmware with third-party solutions like DD-WRT and tell their friends to do the same.