Backroom only for Thunderbolt cables

The speed available from Apple's Thunderbolt I/O technology is amazing. But good luck finding a cable when you really need one.

The speed available from Apple's Thunderbolt I/O technology is amazing. But good luck finding a cable when you really need one.

How do you back up a souped-up MacBook Pro with two drives inside? Forget the slow cloud. Thunderbolt is the way to go. CNET's Dong Ngo offers a roundup of the latest Thunderbolt storage devices and reviews.

I purchased a major piece of Thunderbolt storage a while ago but had no time to set it up until last week. Thunderbolt is now my favorite technology and brings a smile to my face every day. No kidding, it is that fast. But the details of this setup will wait for another post.

First to the cable. Ngo points out the problem in his roundup article.

Imagine how disconcerting a feeling it would be to have your brand-new Camaro delivered to your door just to find out that the steering wheel is not included with the car. You'll have to go buy one separately before the joyrides can start.

Now it's unlikely you'll ever experience that, but if you want to have a little taste of the feeling, go and get a Thunderbolt storage device. So far, none of them comes with a Thunderbolt cable, which is required it for work.

Certainly, the high cost of Thunderbolt cables for the OEM vendors is the issue. This technology is so new that few suppliers offer the cable, making it very expensive. USB cables cost almost next to nothing for a drive vendor. Even FireWire has enough market penetration that connectors are inexpensive. A drive with multiple inputs I purchased a couple of years ago came packed with cables. But not a Thunderbolt drive.

While on some other shopping errands, I drove by a local Best Buy to see if they had a Thunderbolt cable in stock. No such luck. There was no space even on the rack.

This necessitated a trip to an Apple Store, which is also nearby. I looked up and down the Macintosh side of the product shelves located in the back of the store near the Genius Bar. No Thunderbolt cables. I checked it again. Drives, yes. But no cables.

I asked a sales associate about the cable. He also eyeballed the shelves and confirmed my evaluation. Nada.

"I'll ask my manager," he said. This was difficult since the store was packed and very busy. After a while, the next level up in the bureaucracy was queried. He said they were likely in "the back." Another round of internal discussions ensued until the shrink-wrapped cable was finally brought out. $49.

Could it be that these easy-to-shoplift cables are so valuable (or rare) that they must be left in the back room? Or is it that there are few sales of the cables and they don't warrant a spot on the shelves? Could be both reasons.

Perhaps the constraints on Thunderbolt cables will ease soon. I notice that there are cables for sale online for $43, however, the page warns that there's only one SKU left in stock. Order soon!