Go, greased lightning! Reports are coming in that April of 2012 will be Intel’s initial big push for industry-wide adoption of their best-in-class data transfer interface called Thunderbolt. As of now, the only computer manufacturer to use Thunderbolt across their machines is Apple. Because it isn’t widely adopted, selection of Thunderbolt devices is limited, and that’s a little bit scary.
Apple is not new to the realm of early adoption of interfaces. They jumped fairly quickly on USB and Firewire, and that had mixed results. USB took off like crazy while Firewire is, for the most part, relegated to Mac users who use external hard drives or use video capture. Other than that, most peripherals use USB despite FireWire’s superior speed until very recently.
USB 3.0 was released a few years back, and it has gotten a non-trivial amount of traction amongst everyone but Apple. Even now, Apple hasn’t jumped on that bandwagon at all. Instead, they are betting heavily on Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is superior technology, but that doesn’t mean much. If Thunderbolt doesn’t get picked up by enough manufacturers, we might be left with another FireWire situation — useful, but limited by device availability and mind share.