February 12, 2012, 7:07 AM — It's been almost 12 months since Thunderbolt made its debut on the 2011 MacBook Pro. In that time, just a few dozen Thunderbolt products have shipped, to the disappointment of users eager to take advantage of the fast connection.
The reasons for the lack of devices range from the technical to the financial. For Hitachi, implementing Thunderbolt technology into their products turned out to be a bit more complex than they had anticipated. Back in September, the company announced that they would begin shipping Thunderbolt G-Raid and G-Drive external drives in October, but had to put those plans on hold.
"The complex technical nature of Thunderbolt required us to take extra time with design, testing and quality assurance, as the inside of a Thunderbolt product is considerably more complicated than a simple USB device," explained Mike Williams, VP and General Manager of branded business for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.
Unlike USB and FireWire, Thunderbolt combines video, audio, data, and power into one single connection, allowing up to 10Gbps of information to be passed through. The technology's complexity even extends to the cable, where chips in the connectors on both ends of the cable help with the heavy lifting.
"It's a developing process. It isn't completely there yet, but we've worked closely with Intel and Apple, and now we're seeing great performance," Williams said. Due to the delay, Hitachi now hopes to ship products in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Sonnet Technologies experienced a similar situation. At the NAB Show in April 2011, the company announced a slew of Thunderbolt storage devices and adapter cards. Since then, only one product, the Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter, is currently for sale.
(Image Caption: Thunderbolt is a year old, and Apple is still the only provider of Thunderbolt cables, which cost $49 each.)
"The overall development and testing is taking a bit longer than we thought," explained Greg LaPonte, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sonnet.