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Is Sony Fragmenting Thunderbolt? Apple, not Intel, Applies for Thunderbolt Trademark


Engadget and Gula Digital report that while Sony is planning on implementing Thunderbolt in their upcoming laptops, the company will be using a USB connector rather than a DisplayPort connector.
Look closely at that picture. See that Type-A USB jack? The one with the blue stripe sandwiched between the round AC jack (with its green light) and VGA and HDMI ports? Yeah, that's Sony's Thunderbolt implementation according to a trusted source.
Engadget seems confident in their source, and Gula Digital's sources are independelty saying the same thing: Sony will use the USB interface, not mini DisplayPort for their Thunderbolt implementation.

As Engadget notes, we're not sure how this will be allowed. Thunderbolt's original implementation did use the USB connector, but the USB Implementors Forum officially frowned on this behavior by stating that "USB connectors are not general purpose connectors and are not designed to be used in support of other technology applications or standards or as combo connectors." It is believed that it is only due to their objection that Apple and Intel decided to use the mini DisplayPort as the Thunderbolt interface.

Separately, we've noticed that Apple has applied for the Thunderbolt trademark in the U.S. It was previously noticed that Apple had applied for the Thunderbolt trademark in Canada as well. This is unusual since Intel's own pages list Thunderbolt as an Intel trademark. Apple similarly trademarked Firewire, but that trademark was adopted as the official name by the 1394 Trade Association and was granted as a free license to all.

Top Rated Comments

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44 months ago

Is Apple fragmenting Thunderbolt? Apple uses a different connector than Sony.


Did you read the OP? They used a different connector as the USB forum said you couldn't use a usb connection
Rating: 25 Votes
44 months ago
I should probably care about the thunderbolt thing more than I do but the only thing I was thinking when reading this was "Why are we still putting VGA on laptops?"
Rating: 21 Votes
44 months ago
I’d favor the USB connector, except:

* USB is needlessly larger, and

* USB is symmetrical on the outside! You can’t tell by feel (or eve a quick glance) which way a USB connector goes in. Thunderbolt, being tapered, is just more usable.

I get USB cables the wrong way around on the first try about 1/3 of the time. Sure, most are labeled, but not all in the same way. And what if the port you connect to is sideways, or on a free cable or brick with no orientation? Nothing beats a connector whose very shape—visible and tactile—only has one way to go.


I don't think I have ever seen a mini displayport on anything other than Apple hardware.
I have seen USB on, well, every PC since 2000. Well done Sony. Stick to common ports.


Thunderbolt is for displays, among other things; in fact, initially it’s the most common use of Thunderbolt. And USB is not common for displays. DisplayPort is more so. (And Apple’s not the only one to use mini DisplayPort. The “original” DisplayPort was needlessly large, and luckily Apple stepped in quickly with a better standard, for use by all. Not everyone uses it—but computing is better when they do: your computers can then all share the same display connector even when they’re too compact for the early large-size connector.)

Blue USB is usually a usb 3.0 connector. More than likely its a mislabeled pic.


Good theory. Makes sense.
Rating: 18 Votes
44 months ago
Blue USB is usually a usb 3.0 connector. More than likely its a mislabeled pic.
Rating: 17 Votes
44 months ago

USB ports on a advice are always oriented the same way. So when you plug in the cable you will always plug in the connector with the USB logo facing up. If you take 2 seconds to actually look at the connector you wont have to randomly guess.


Just spend 25 seconds under my desk. On my Mac the 'bottom' of the cable faces right. On my Dell the 'bottom' is on the left. So they're exactly the opposite of each other.

Whenever I hear someone say "always" in regards to computers I can be pretty sure they haven't checked many places.
Rating: 14 Votes
44 months ago

Is Apple fragmenting Thunderbolt? Apple uses a different connector than Sony.


uh, no, they are the ones who helped make it
Rating: 13 Votes
44 months ago
USB connectors suck. You can't tell their direction by looking on them from the side and you always plug them the wrong way first (at least I do).

But in the end there will be $30 adapters and everyone will be happy (not).
Rating: 12 Votes
44 months ago


Have you ever looked into a USB port? Its very clear which way it's meant to go.


The point is that getting down on the floor to look inside the USB port is slower than just trying it both ways. I always randomly guess too which means I only get it right half the time.
Rating: 10 Votes
44 months ago

MDP is DEAD!

Go Sony. It was stupid to marry a PCIe I/O interface (TBolt) with an old version of a graphics interface (Display Port 1.1) using a mostly proprietary (MDP) video connector.

What was Intel thinking?

mDP is not proprietary
Rating: 10 Votes
44 months ago

About the trademark part. Is Apple doing the same "Firewire" stuff they pulled in the 90s ? That sure didn't help fragmentation (i.Link, IEEE 1394, firewire... hello consumer confusion).


Funny how you mention the last time Sony took someone else's tech and made it more confusing. (They're the ones that invented the term 'iLink' for no real reason.)

So how does your little Sony-history story translate into "Is Apple doing" as your question?

Sony's solution will be more consumer friendly, since you'll be able to plug in your older USB devices as well as newer Thunderbolt ones into the same port.


Yeah, and plugging your Thunderbolt device into dozens of USB ports that don't support Thunderbolt and getting confused and angry is really consumer-friendly.
Rating: 9 Votes

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