Thunderbolt is a hit!

Thunderbolt is a hit!

Summary: Thunderbolt isn't just a faster USB - and Mac buyers see that. I'm calling it: despite the sparse product offering Thunderbolt is a hit.

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Shipping times at the Apple online store show that Thunderbolt is a hit with Mac buyers. And that's with almost no Thunderbolt products available. Expect great things when many more Thunderbolt peripherals start shipping in the next 6 months.

Shipping estimates The Thunderbolt peripherals for sale from Apple are limited to the Thunderbolt Display - a 27" display with built-in Thunderbolt USB/FireWire adapter - and the Promise Pegasus arrays. Both are available as standalone options and as system add-ons.

As system add-ons - purchased with a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air - they're available immediately. But as standalone items they have much longer lead times: 2-3 weeks for the Thunderbolt Display and 3-5 weeks for the Thunderbolt storage arrays.

And this means what? Several things:

  • Ship times for the individual products wouldn't be so long if there weren't a lot of folks buying the Thunderbolt products with their new system.
  • The Thunderbolt Display is not as popular - or Apple forecasts better than Promise - but people like the Thunderbolt expansion it offers. The non-Thunderbolt 27" LED Cinema display ships with 24 hours.
  • The Pegasus Thunderbolt arrays are popular: every other storage array the Apple Store sells is available within 24 hours.
  • The Pegasus Thunderbolt arrays are popular despite costing roughly 50% more than the slower, non-Thunderbolt arrays. Performance sells!

The Storage Bits take HP's decision to leave the PC market reflects both a maturing market and the inability of PC makers to earn decent margins on boring me-too products. Apple owns the high-end, high-margin PC business, while taking share from the Wintel notebook market with the iPad.

With the advent of the Mac Thunderbolt-everywhere strategy Apple is now differentiating the Mac and the iPad based on I/O. The iPad is the new MacBook.

USB 3.0 peripherals are proliferating at premiums that range from almost nothing to 100% over USB 2 products. USB 3.0's success is assured due to price and bandwidth.

Thunderbolt meets a different need: it extends a system's PCIe bus outside the box. What does this mean?

The Mac Pro tower design - and Wintel towers as well - have been the only systems that offer user-accessible bus access, until Thunderbolt. Now a skinny little notebook or a mini form factor box can offer what only towers had before.

Which means that I/O oriented apps - those with large storage capacities or specialized I/O - don't need to be run on bulky towers. Any Thunderbolt notebook can do the job.

Which leaves computationally intensive jobs to tower configurations that can support the memory, CPU cores, GPUs and cooling needed for simulation, transcoding and rendering. Call it consumer High Performance Computing.

Apple's industrial designers know the possibilities. I trust they're designing great products that will exploit Thunderbolt to the max.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Saddened to see Steve Jobs resign as CEO, but confident that a great design company - like Porsche, Herman Miller and Apple - can maintain their mojo for many decades through many CEOs. The key is that great designers want to work at great design companies.

Topics: Apple, CXO, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Storage

About

Robin Harris has been a computer buff for over 35 years and selling and marketing data storage for over 30 years in companies large and small.

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41 comments
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  • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

    I hate my Thunderbolt with a fiery passion. Its ultra poor battery life, constant rebooting, not ringing, brick like heaviness, failed promises, have left me wishing I never bought the thing. <br><br>Oh... you're talking about the meaningless interface on the mac that will end up being less used than firewire..... sorry. Yeah I think 'hit' is probably the wrong word for that one too.
    wendellgee2
    • I like how he associates long ship times

      @wendellgee@...

      With success of a product. Perhaps they just aren't producing very many and so it sells out easily. Thunderbolt is another product that Intel is trying to force down the market's throat that no one cares about, just like they did with Rambus memory. USB 3.0 works great. Firewire works great. And let's face it, a 10GB serial interface isn't all that useful unless you have an insanely fast hard drive. Video? DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI are all more than suitable. And even that is supposedly going to be replaced with patch cables going forward because that gives huge bandwidth on an interface cable that is ubiquitous and low cost.

      Not the first time Robin has been way off and I'm sure it won't be the last. "There are no peripherals that use it but it's a success." Right...
      LiquidLearner
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @LiquidLearner Why all the hate? Is it because Microsoft was not involved? Or is it jealousy rather than hate?
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @LiquidLearner
        I agree. Thunderbolt does not bring anything new to the table but a reason to waste $$$.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Rick_Kl [i]Why all the hate? Is it because Microsoft was not involved?[/i]

        um... yeah.. I'm suuuuure that's the reason.

        ::eyeroll::
        Badgered
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @LiquidLearner I see you are setting yourself up to miss the boat again just like you did with the iPad. You guys always think in terms of what has been and never about the future or the possibilities. The industry needs Thunderbolt to move innovation forward. Did you even read Robin's article about how it extends the PCI bus? Think of the possibilities if you can.
        CowLauncher
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Badgered There has to be a reason for the hate. Imagine if Apple did not introduce FireWire?, there would be no USB. No matter what the Zealots say, Apple has produced products that have inspired others to abandon the old way of thinking and come up with new stuff.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Rick_Kl [i]No matter what the Zealots say, Apple has produced products that have inspired others to abandon the old way of thinking and come up with new stuff.[/i]

        I actually agree with that point. But what his response has to do with MS... I have no clue where you got that from.
        Badgered
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Badgered Simple logic: someone such as LiquidLearner who supports Microsoft?s every move. Failed to see what the potential of this technology is, and what it can bring to the table. The simple presence of Thunderbolt (a.k.a. lightpeak) could spur on competing technologies, with that in mind, would benefit all computer users.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Rick_Kl [i]someone such as LiquidLearner who supports Microsofts every move.[/i]

        Assuming you're right... Let's say someone supports Apple's every move, would you say that person has no ability to comment on technology except through Apple colored glasses? I tend to give people a little more credit than that, and look at what they said... I try not to presume their thoughts.
        Badgered
      • I agree with Rick_Kl here, but for the wrong reasons

        @Badgered
        When someone such as Rick_Kl who supports Apple at every move views comments from others questioning that move, they automaticly think it's because they're NBMer's.

        If anyone choses something other then an Apple product (lets say AppleTV) instead choosing Roku, it's not because they see a better value or fit with the Roku, it's because they're "Apple haters".

        And they never question their own thoughts or opinions, just others, and they don't see that.

        I can't see how the blogger connects long lead times to that of overly popular, when just last month the same blogger was connecting long lead times with lack of interest or production problems, since it was competitor's product.
        William Farrell
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Badgered I am looking at from a purely technical perspective. I could honestly care less who is using it. I used to work with 20 Gigabit fiber, and thought it was the greatest thing (well 10 years ago that is). The company that was producing the fiber was not Apple, but the technology was still great. Again I do not care who has it first, or who makes it. I am talking about the possibilities for which it could be used.
        Rick_Kl
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Rick_Kl [i]The company that was producing the fiber was not Apple, but the technology was still great. Again I do not care who has it first, or who makes it[/i]

        Which is exactly my point. You questioned LiquidLearner's motives asking "Is it because Microsoft was not involved?" without him/her even mentioning MS. Why the double standard?
        Badgered
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @Badgered I may have only recently started posting here, but have been reading these blogs for the last several years. It seems that when Apple comes out with something new, there are the usual persons that will declare it worthless, useless, etc. For example there were those that declared the iPhone would never take off, simply because of Apple. So when I read similar posts about anything relating to an Apple product, then I expect the usual suspects to come out and declare it useless.
        Rick_Kl
  • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

    I have a Pegasus R6 attached to a 2011 mac mini as my upgraded NAS storage for backup and media. The storage array is very fast and has been trouble free. When I ordered it 10 days ago shipping time was 3-5 weeks, but it actually shipped the next day. Not sure why estimated shipping time was so inaccurate.
    jaymark123
  • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

    The Thunderbolt 27" monitor has actually always had a long lead-time from when it was released...not sure why. The Thunderbolt cable has seen an increase in lead-time however.
    hjenkins1
  • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

    Yes I know a couple people with new Macs with Thunderbolt and they brag about it all the time despite that they are not using it for anything. It's a hit for the bragging rights only at this point. Just like a friend that brags that his Dodge Caliber SRT4 has a 180MPH Speedometer and a top speed of 170MPH or so compared to my HHR SS with a 160MPH Speedometer and a top speed of 150MPH or so. It is pointless since he is never going to go that fast.

    Maybe as it develops but for now if there is only a few devices that work with it then it will remain an unused battery drainer for now.
    bobiroc
    • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

      @bobiroc gads not you too! Talk about lack of vision. It just came out for frack sakes. There are already some awesome products like that Promise Pegasus 12TB RAID System...under 2000 bucks! It's just the beginning.
      CowLauncher
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @CowLauncher

        Substitute 'Firewire' for 'Thunderbolt' and you'll see why he (and most people not obsessed with Apple) has this opinion.

        Being the best does not mean being a winner or even a 'hit'. Being the thing most people actually use, is.
        TheWerewolf
      • RE: Thunderbolt is a hit!

        @CowLauncher

        Once again.. Only the beginning.. Until there is a wide product offering then how can it be a hit? Using hit in this way implies that it is loved and used by the masses just like they would use the word hit to describe a new song by a musician or performer. Meaning many people like and actually listen to it.

        I am not saying that it won't become more popular as it is a great technology that has lots of potential. Just now it is limited by the fact there are only a few things that work with it and only a select few have the need for it.
        bobiroc