Thunderbolt – When will there be a price drop?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Beliblis, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Beliblis macrumors regular

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    Dec 31, 2011
    #1
    I know, it's a bit speculative. But still: Looking at the history of earlier technologies like USB and Firewire, and also the recent drop in price for SSDs:

    When would you expect external Thunderbolt drives to drop in price?
     
  2. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #2
    Considering the rights belong to Intel and not Apple, I believe it might become the next USB in something like ten years. Maybe earlier if we're lucky enough to see something revolutionary come out that will change the way your everyday user use the computer.
     
  3. WesCole macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    I just can't see it replacing USB. Who needs that kind of bandwidth for a keyboard or mouse or printer? We will still need USB around since Thunderbolt is inherently more expensive to make cables to use on devices where bandwidth doesn't matter.

    However, I believe prices will probably drop about 25% or so over the next year just because more people will own Thunderbolt equipped devices. I base that figure on absolutely nothing. :)
     
  4. Daremo macrumors 68020

    Daremo

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    #4
    As soon as it's adopted by the PC makers. It needs to become a standard, or it will remain high priced, simply due to its niche.
     
  5. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #5
    I'm pretty sure that in ten years, we won't see that many keyboards, mice/trackpads and printers that will still use cables. The wireless technology is here to stay and take over. And Thunderbolt is a lot better than USB due to its speed and daisy chaining.

    As far as I know, the profit margin on Thunderbolt cables is ridiculous, and near to nothing for USB cables. Considering the age of the technologies, there is also a bigger possibility to push down production costs for the TB cable production.

    See, you're saying 25 % in a year, yet you're claiming my ten year vision of TB becoming cheap enough to take over to be unbelievable? I don't get it...
     
  6. Beliblis thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    I don't think it's high priced because of its niche.
    How many PC users do you know who have Firewire? There are some, yes. Mainly for video. But the average PC doesn't have Firewire. Still, it's not that much more expensive than USB.
     
  7. wethackrey, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    wethackrey macrumors 6502

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    #7
    There was an article in July on this in the main section of the MacRumors site. The premise of the article is that Thunderbolt cable prices should drop in 2013 due to new silicon from Intersil. There should also be economies of scale as the technology becomes more widely adopted. While the article focused on cable pricing, I think both of these influences should bring down the price of drives as well.

    Take a look at Seagate's current GoFlex Thunderbolt I/O adapters. The adapters currently have to accommodate large custom circuit boards, making them expensive and bulky.

    [​IMG]
    Seagate's STAE121 portable GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter.

    [​IMG]
    Seagate's STAE122 desktop GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter.

    Compare these to the USB 3.0 adapter for the same product line where Seagate can leverage dedicated USB 3.0 silicon from a number of competing vendors including Cypress, Texas Instruments, Renesas, NEC and others.

    [​IMG]
    Seagate's STAE104 portable GoFlex USB 3.0 adapter.

    Thunderbolt has strong support from Intel, which means the technology is unlikely to be abandoned any time soon. What the next-generation optical Thunderbolt will do to the pricing is anyone's guess, but with Intel carefully managing the release, my guess is that optical won't be a factor in the near term.
     
  8. nuckinfutz macrumors 603

    nuckinfutz

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    #8
    It has been adopted by PC vendors. Multiple motherboard vendors announced Thunderbolt options at computex.


    What's driving the price of TB devices up is

    A. Expensive chipsets (see the Intersil comment above for potential decreases there)

    B. The need for multiple chipsets - Intel's latest Cactus Ridge chipsets require less supporting chips which means less cost and easier QA testing. The hope is the next chipset will further reduce the need for chips dropping pricing even more.
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    "I just can't see it replacing USB"

    Thunderbolt will not "replace" USB. It wasn't intended for that purpose.

    If anything, USB3 (and the upcoming USB4) may possibly relegate Thunderbolt to a "niche technology", with few users or buyers.

    USB3 will relegate firewire 800 to a "legacy technology", just as firewire 400 condemned SCSI to the dust bin (again, with the exception of specialized or "niche users").

    Thunderbolt may well become the "Edsel" of connection technologies, UNLESS:
    1. It's made cheaper
    2. It can be shown to the mass market that TBolt can serve useful purposes for every day usage
    3. It's made cheaper (repeat intentional).
     
  10. Daremo macrumors 68020

    Daremo

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    #10
    Not NOW, this many years later. For a LONG time, you paid a premium for anything with Firewire.

    ----------

    Allow me to re-phrase...


    As soon as the PC makers incorporate a Thunderbolt port into their machines, so it's a standard on all new PC's.

    For the same reason Firewire didn't take off. It wasn't a standard on PC's (Basically because no one wanted to pay Apple a license fee for it) but if it WAS, more peripheral makers would have put it into everything. The ONLY thing that saved Firewire was the connectivity to cameras and video recorders. Apple was smart in not charging those companies the fee. Since thunderbolt won't require the Apple tax, there's a better chance for mass adoption. I'm not talking about PCI cards with Thunderbolt either. It needs to be an included port on every PC just like USB, and THEN the prices will plummet. Until then, we will see small price drops, but it will remain a premium item, or "professional" items, geared towards music and video industries. It needs to be commonly available on a mass consumer market, and cater to the general public, not just the tech guys like us.
     
  11. wethackrey, Aug 4, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2012

    wethackrey macrumors 6502

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    #11
    There's an interesting bit of history behind this. There really was no "Apple tax"... just the threat of one. The downfall of FW and the rise of USB 2 was not actually caused by royalties Apple charged for the FireWire technology.

    Firewire was developed by Apple in 1986. Control of it was given to the IEEE during it's development and, eventually, other partners brought their own intellectual property to the emerging IEEE 1394 standard. Not the least of these was Sony who, in the end, contributed more than anyone else. When Jobs returned to Apple in late 1996, the company was cash-strapped. He went about trying to find ways to infuse the company with revenue. By 1998 Apple was about ready to roll out the first PowerMac G3s with built-in Firewire. Hewlett-Packard approached Apple looking to license the technology.

    Jobs had been away from Apple during the latter stages of Firewire's development and still thought of it as Apple proprietary technology. The story goes that Jobs and others were discussing a "$1 per unit" license within earshot of HP's attorneys. HP went ballistic. HP approached Texas Instruments to intervene with Jobs. TI declined. They'd negotiated their own solid license with Apple early on and it was hardly in TI's interest to do any favors for HP. Now furious, HP approached Intel demanding a newer, faster bus that was not Firewire.

    The truth was, Firewire licensing was controlled by the 1394 licensing consortium by that time. Within two months after the fateful "$1 per unit" conversation, Sony had met with Jobs and pointed out that the Firewire technology that Apple was putting into it's products contained IP from other consortium members including Sony. They suggested to Jobs that, if he didn't drop the ridiculous notion of a $1 royalty, Apple would soon be paying the consortium to license it's own technology. Steve evidently said that $1 was never actually discussed with HP and that the 1394 consortium should handle the licensing. By that time, though, it was too late to save the HP deal. Six months later USB 2.0 was announced and promoted heavily by both Intel (not a Firewire partner) and HP.

    It's also interesting to note that Apple was the first company to include USB in their products. They replaced serial ports with USB 1.1 on the same Blue and White PowerMac G3 in which they introduced FireWire. People were furious that Apple would replace their beloved serial ports. They were thrilled that Firewire had finally replaced SCSI.

    Thunderbolt, by the way, is an Intel technology and is a much more flexible bus than USB 3. I think we're already seeing broader adoption of it than Firewire. Thunderbolt was originally called "LightPeak" because it included an optical version in the spec. Intel has committed to delivering optical Thunderbolt "in 2012" that would deliver up to 100Gbps at distances more than ten times farther than the current version's 6 meter limit.

    The optical version is certainly, at least for the short term, aimed at a "niche market". But things change. Back in the day, continuous tone color printing was a niche market that supported us selling Kodak dye sub printers for $25K. Today your great aunt Tilda can get similar quality output from her free Lexmark printer. The point being, it seems Intel is serious about promoting Thunderbolt so only time will tell how well it's adopted. Cabling should drop drastically in price by early next year as Intersil starts shipping their new TB silicon and Belkin and others get into the fray.
     
  12. Daremo macrumors 68020

    Daremo

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    #12
    I love these forums for post's like that. That is extremely interesting, and I learned something today! That's for taking the time to post all that, it's appreciated!
     
  13. wethackrey macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Good. I think my work here is done. :)
     
  14. carestudio macrumors 6502

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