USB and Light Peak to be deadly rivals

Probably the biggest, most influential story you will read today is that Apple has signed up for Light Peak. At first sight you might think that it’s nothing special but this news is something that has ramifications for the whole industry for years to come.

Light Peak is the new Intel standard designed to compete with USB3. Which is also an Intel standard. The bizarre twist is that Intel is not expected to release any USB3-capable chipsets until well after it has Light Peak-capable chips on the market.

Independent manufacturers of USB3 devices and chips will be worried that this could mean the end of Intel support for USB3. After all, there isn’t much reason for Intel to support both standards.

Thankfully for the independents, history points to a safe ride. When Apple released the all-USB iMac, there wasn’t a single PC that followed suit for years. Even if Intel decides to back Light Peak at the expense of USB3, things won’t change quickly.

Just as with the iMac switch to USB, there is simply far too much industry momentum for a quick and easy change to Light Peak. Especially at the low end of the market. Intel will know this. Apple will know this.

The big question that will be keeping analysts, investors and product designers busy for years is not whether Light Peak will cause USB3 to slowly fade into the background. That will be easy to spot if it happens. The thing that will leave them with sleepless nights is whether Light Peak is destined for the big time or will it become another technologically superior also-ran like Firewire?

Even the combined might of Intel and Apple might not be enough to beat USB3.