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Rɘvolutionary by Design

Introducing Thunderdolt from Apple.

Apple announced it was adding Thunderbolt to the MacBook Pro line in February of this year, but we have yet to see a single product on the market that can work with the Thunderbolt port. The apple consumer gets Thunderbolt before we get Blu-rayα or USB 3.0, at least one of these feels like a miss. Not only that, now the Mini DisplayPort that Apple provided me has already become obsolete.

As of today there is not a single product on the market that can take advantage of Thunderbolt. Apple was even kind enough to footnote this for us on their official Thunderbolt page. So what we are left with is a Thunderdud. HP recently announced that they will not be supporting Thunderbolt in favor of supporting USB 3.0. So maybe in 12 months there might be a decent availability of products for Thunderbolt, but the adoption rate of Thunderbolt is is still to be determined. This concern is also exacerbated by the lack of tier one manufacturers even making the list of initial Thunderbolt products.

A universal cable fits well in the Apple

design ethos paramount to the elimination

of cables all together”

What I do believe and agree with is the concept of the universal cable–one cable to rule them all. I originally supposed that HDMIβ would be this, but Apple chose Mini DisplayPort. What is clear is that USB was a success in terms of adoption, but its speed frontierγ and extensibility are not on par with what it will take be become a universal standard.

When you look at the first Macbook Air’s pop out USB port its clear that Apple’s perpetual need to miniaturizate and optimize the design of their products can only benefit from a universal cable. What I struggle with is the fact that USB 3.0 provides a consistent form factor and provides backwards compatibility, so I am all for adding Thunderbolt, but would have appreciated USB 3.0 on the new MacBook Pros and iMacs to hedge our bets on future standards and product availablility.

Apple can be a little schizophrenic when it comes to adopting new technologies.  When it serves their interests early adoption is the way to go (no floppy disk on the original iMac, Thunderbolt) but in other cases Apple lags too far behind the industry (SD Cards, Blu-ray, Intel CPUs). Every technology manufacturer is going to have their hits and misses when it comes to adopting new standards, but I can’t quite get a grasp of the method to Apple’s madness when it come to adoption of these standards. Sure Apple is great at creating new markets but Steve Jobs always seems a little off target when it comes to adopting standards.


  1. Yes I know I am supposed to stream/download on my video online, and I will when it is the same quality (audio/video) as Blu-ray. Steve Jobs has likened Blu-ray to high end audio formats, but they never got retail shelf space that Blu-ray has. Plus its still indeterminate how ISP’s are going to deal with the bandwidth to make all this streaming/downloading possible without it ultimately costing too much to the end user.

  2. HDMI 1.4 in theory is on par with Thunderbolt except for the ability to transmit power (this may be a gross oversimplification of the difference)

  3. USB transfers data through controllers vs directly with the computer’s internal I/O bus.