Intel's (Apple-exclusive) Thunderbolt port was big news back in February. The technology is nothing short of revolutionary, and Apple seems dedicated to pushing it with all the vigor in their corporate body. The new MacBook was just the beginning.
See, Steve Jobs has a dream. He wants a world of seamless technology. Where function needs no concession from form. Our current environment, where ugly ports and plugs and sockets litter every gadget's body, is painful to Apple's aesthete CEO. The iPad 2 and iPad should give you some idea of what Jobs envisions for the future.
Last year, the iPad created a furor when it launched with no USB port. Users would need to connect an awkward cable to the 30-pin connector to use their flash drives. Pundits decried this as a critical flaw, but the buying public obviously hasn't cared. Early surveys of users haven't shown resentment over the shortcoming.
Up until recently, I was one of those pundits grumbling about the iPad's limitations. Then I started using one. And, surprise surprise, I haven't found myself groping for my USB cable -once-. I tend to send documents between machines using Google Docs or email anyway. Since my iPad 2 is mainly a reading or working device, media transfer hasn't been an issue yet. Your experience may differ.
This newly discovered patent gives us an idea of what Apple has in mind for the future of their devices. A hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 connector/30-pin connector has been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent notes that it would be meant for iPods and future Mac hardware. But the most obvious application of this technology is for mobile devices. More function, less mess. Sounds like Apple to me.