Intel's Tight Control Over Thunderbolt Technology Keeps Accessories Off The Market
Although Apple has integrated Intelís Thunderbolt connection standard in every model of the Mac that the company has introduced since 2011, the technology has yet to truly take off in the computer industry. According to a new report, Thunderbolt has failed to gain much traction due to Intelís tight controls over the standard.
The Cupertino California company has recently brought Thunderbolt to the Mac shortly after Intel officially introduced the technology, which the two companies developed in collaboration. Thunderbolt allowed for speeds roughly twelve times faster than FireWire 800 and twice as fast as USB 3.0 as well as the ability to daisy-chain multiple devices without using a hub. Apple secured an exclusive license on the technology shortly following its unveiling and even when that license expired, other PC manufactures didnít begin to adopt the standard en masse, leaving it quite exclusively attached to Apple (for the most part).
Additionally, the number of peripherals supporting the standard has been well below what some expected given its specifications. A recently released research note from DigiTimes
points the finger at Intelís unwillingness to license the technology behind Thunderbolt to other parties, a factor that keeps to the cost of Thunderbolt high and wider adoption very low.
According to the report, Intel uses independent packaging for Thunderbolt chips and the chipmaker maintains a tight grip on the technology. The specialized chips Intel places near Thunderbolt configurators are proprietary designs meaning that Intel can maintain control over the pricing on Thunderbolt cables. As of right now, a four-channel Thunderbolt chip component has a wholesale price of $35, while a two-meter Thunderbolt cable has a recommended retail price of $39.The price points of these items are keeping some of the smaller manufacturers away from entering the Thunderbolt device segment, leaving it largely to established players.
Right now, other chipmakers including ASMedia are trying to convince Intel to license the silicon intellectual property rights related to Thunderbolt. Their argument stands firm in stating that licensing the technology would allow other companies to make smaller-sized and cheaper peripherals. Intel hasnít yet responded publicly to such requests.