The key statement is;
"Apple has a mixed history of embracing new system interconnects. It was among the first to champion FireWire, which for a time appeared to be a shoo-in as the high-end computer and consumer interface of choice. But USB quickly eclipsed FireWire, which never gained traction beyond a niche of professional A/V systems and high-end disk drives. On the other hand, Apple was also among the early adopters of Wi-Fi, now standard across all notebooks".
TB is a (calculated) gamble on part of Apple and Intel. That is their business ethos. Leaders lead.
I am investing my hard earned £'s (while they are still worth something) in this Apple/Intel collaboration, including Mac Air, Mac-Mini, TB-Display, and soon I hope, a few Tbytes of LaCie's TD HD Drive's (when they do finally appear). Couple this with the imminent arrival of 'ICloud' and I for one can't wait for all the bits to fall into place.
'Firewire deja-vu', hmmm. Significant advances in technology always (and will always) involve necessary stepping stone upgrades to reach those ground-breaking leaps. I'm betting that TB will be a bit of a leap. Yes, TB will need to become open-spec. In order to survive, it must. Even TB will be a relatively short-lived stepping-stone to high-speed wireless data transfer between devices.
End-user perception of TB will be absolutely critical to the success of TB and not what manufactures take-up of the interface is. If the end user wants TB, then TB they will get. That niche of professional A/V types has recently exploded into a plethora of the amateur A/V types. We are all film makers, garageband musicians and sound engineers now. Apple / Intel are right on the button with TB. For me, it is the right interface at the right time. Speed of data transfer is everything to pseudo-directors and producers.
It all seems to be happening right now. It all seems to be 'Apple' right now. What is that noise? Oh, the LION is roaring. Where is PC?
@docdivakar, interesting comments on latency...would you be interested in expanding them to a short book chapter? (say, compare TB, USB, InfiniBand etc)...if so pls let me know, email@example.com
@AlunWang: You are right, the specs need to be open if Intel wants others to join.
@rick.merritt: the 10Gig PHY/controllers can do the same today although their costs and power/thermal problems are still lingering. But volume adoption and better designs are forcing innovations there any way. Today you can AV-Bridge over RJ45. So there are cost effective existing solutions for faster synching and video transfer today!
Some advantages I see for TB is in displayport in lieu of USB. I don't buy the latency argument (where it matters, financial markets for round trip execution times, InfiniBand is firmly entrenched any way!); even Ethernet can reach microsecond latencies with offload engines.
Dr. MP Divakar
The ability to encapsulate PCI Express in a low latency way could very well make or break TB, particularly when they graduate to full Light Peak. USB can go optical too, so won't be bound to 5 Gbps, but will still be USB only. There is a big difference between a high speed i/o, like USB 3.0, and actually extending a system bus out of the box. Consider, for example, long range chip-to-chip interconnects. A cluster system would be much less like a bunch of computers networked together and much more like a single machine that just so happened to have its chips spread out amongst several different physical boxes.
@ Warren: I think Thunderbolt does what Intel claims, but the other side suggests there are real costs and no killer apps for the 5-10G space it has exclusive claim to in PC I/O. @Iniewski: I will try to ping Intel to jump in here.