Good things come to those who wait, is the mantra that must be running through your mind if you like the idea of Intel's new Thunderbolt technology. But not the idea of buying a new MacBook Pro or other Apple product to get your hands on it.
Earlier today, Intel unveiled the new technology at a media event and announced that Apple would have exclusive use of it for the duration of 2011. You'll have to wait until Spring of 2012 to buy any motherboards or non-Apple notebooks that contain a Thunderbolt port. Even if the iPad launches with one, it won't come to the wider tablet market until sometime next year.
Meanwhile, USB 3.0 is available right now on a wide and growing family of devices. It will have exactly one year to spread unchecked before Thunderbolt will become a direct competitor. Even now, the looming presence of such technology on the horizon may have a chilling effect in the adoption of the advanced USB standard.
Giving exclusivity to Apple was a gamble on Intel's part. It is absolutely crucial for them that Thunderbolt catches on. But the Cupertino-based company was necessary to ensure Displayport compatibility, and the ability to use the MacBook Pro as a flagship for the new technology can't be undervalued. Apple is a good partner to have for more reasons than their ability to move machines.
If any company has a reputation for making the future, it is Apple. They killed the floppy drive, the record store and they're well on their way to killing the netbook. When Apple adopts a new standard, the rest of the industry tends to follow. Intel is betting that this will be as true with Thunderbolt as it has been for the front-facing camera.