Wednesday, March 2, 2011

iPad 2 Prediction: ThunderPORT

[UPDATE] There new iPod dock connector does support higher bandwidth and new functionality. There is even a new cable accessory with the new port on the other end. But alas it's not Thunderbolt.

Later today, Apple will introduce the iPad 2. Most best revolve around the technical and performance specs. I would like to bet on a certain implementation of a certain technology.

Last week, Apple introduced the new Macbook Pros with the new Thunderbolt port. Ever since that I had an idea at now Apple could avoid the Firewire vs USB battle that it lost for the common connector standart on computers.

With Thunderbolt Super High Speed port, Apple has second chance to help establish a new common connection standart and force replacement of most connectors we use today: USB, Firewire, HDMI, Display Port, Ethernet. I don't think they plan to replace the 3.5 mm audio jack anytime soon

In the last battle vs the USB standart from Intel, Apple required too high a licence fee/royalties for the use of the Firewire standart. Manufacturers adopted the cheap USB connector instead even though it was inferior in most ways.

Now Apple in its eternal quest to simplify things, get rid of useless port and make ever thinner products has put it crosshairs on USB and Firewire. There port even in their latest and greatest implementation do not seam to provide enough of growth potential and features for use in Apples future roadmap.

So, for the past 1-2 years or more, Apple has worked with Intel on the next generation of Super High Speed Standart - codenamed Light Peak as prototype and Marketed as Thunderbolt in its final implementation. Apple has really learned its lesson here. Make no mistake, this is Intel's standard, no Apple's. But even partnering with the most important chip manufacturer in the world will not win the battle against an entrenched USB standart. For Thunderbolt to win vs USB 3.0 it will have to out-adopt it. But USB 3.0 is already out and Apple will be the only computer licensee of Thunderbird in 2011.

How can Apple's Thunderbird win the battle against USB 3.0 for mindshare of consumers, device & accessory manufacturers and software developers? An almost rhetorical question: By including Thunderbolt capability in its most mindshare winning products: the Mac (March), the iPad (April), the iPhone (June) and the iPod (September), very likely in this exact order of introduction .
So you are thinking now that I am saying that the iPad will have a Thunderbolt Port, right? Well, no. This is where my prediction comes in. Here it comes:

The iPad today and the other iOS devices to follow will not have a Thunderbolt port. They will IMHO have a thunderbolt connectivity capability. WTH you say ?!?

I believe by switching from 30 Pin iPod connector to Thunderbolt, Apple stands to lose to much. The new iOS devices will be totally incompatible with dock connector equipped peripherals so far. And boy, are they a lot! What I think Apple will do is the same thing they did with Mini Display port but now with the venerable iPod connector: include a control chip to enable the iPod connector to receive a Thunderbird signal.

So with the introduction of the iPad later today Apple may show a new accessory: a cable with a a iPod dock connector on the one end an a Thunderbird connector on the other. Users of any Macs with Thunderbolt port will be able to buy this new cable and sync and charge their new iPad much, much faster.

As designing accessories for an iPad and iPhone is the hottest thing to do, adoption of both the iPod Connector and the Thunderbolt port will skyrocket to mainstream and accelerate past USB 3.0

And there you go. I will be sure to post an update once the iPad event finishes.

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