The Lightning port wasn’t the only new connector that Apple pushed last year. The Thunderbolt connector – a port that is faster than USB 3 – is available on all Macs that have received an update in the last year, and features various technical advantages over other connection options. Developed by Intel and actively being pushed Apple, Thunderbolt’s greatest downside is the cost and relative lack of accessories.
While the cost is still likely to stay higher than the competing USB 3, Ars Technica finds that mechanisms are being put in place to speed the process for manufacturers. The biggest holdup is the fact that Thunderbolt accessories are required to pass Intel’s licensing and certification process.
Several vendors we have spoke to over the past year have claimed that Intel was holding up the process, cherry picking which vendors it worked with.
Intel goes on to deny this claim, and say:
Intel has “worked closely” with vendors it felt could “offer the best products” and could meet its stringent “certification requirements.”
It’s the downfalls of a more controlled ecosystem, it seems. While the few Thunderbolt products that exist are of very high quality, this strictness has kept cheaper options from creating products that work with Thunderbolt. USB 2 and 3 remains the de facto port for almost all accessories, with the only exception being high-end video markets.