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Apple is keeping it pricey with a $49 cable for its new Thunderbolt interface.  (Source: Ubergizmo)

  (Source: iFixIt)

Apple's Thunderbolt cable contains over 10 chips  (Source: iFixIt)
But this cable has chips, so it must be worth it!

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is borrowing a play from Monster Cables offering a cable that's almost as pricey as the peripherals it plans to support.  The new Thunderbolt cable will retail for $49 USD.

Plugging in to the Mini Display Port of new MacBook Pros and iMacs, the cable offers support for "Thunderbolt", a new high speed communications standard from Intel Corp. (INTC).  With the first peripheral (a RAID drive bay from Pegasus) launching, attention has turned to this pricey little number.

IFixIt tore the white cable apart and found a pair of Gennum GN2033 chips hiding beneath the sheathing, with one on each connector of the cable.  In total there were also 10 other smaller tiny chips and an assortment of transistors, etc.

Gennum's webpage brags that its chip takes normal cables and offers "sophisticated signal boosting and detection functions required to transfer high-speed data without errors."

Of course nobody seems to know how much these chips cost so it's hard to say exactly how much profit Apple is pulling in off the cables.

Adoption is expected to be slow for the standard.  Like Apple's original Firewire standard, the price of the communications band (in this case the cable) offers a barrier for market entry.  It doesn't help that Hewlett-Packard, Company (HPQ) already abandoned plans for Thunderbolt, or that Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) has released a special version of the tech that relies on a modified USB 3.0 optical port.  

And there's the question of USB 3.0, which has already seen much more broad adoption.  USB 3.0 offers transfer speeds of up to 4 Gbit/s.  While only about half the speed of the current Thunderbolt implementation, that's still pretty blazing fast so the question remains how many customers will actually notice a difference.

To Monster Cables' credit, at least it only charges $29 for its "gold-plated" USB 2.0 cables, which it brags "rejects noise" and works to "maximize signal integrity."  Sound familiar?

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RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By quiksilvr on 6/30/2011 10:23:36 AM , Rating: 3
But at least in a world of ignorance, we have companies that know when to be responsible and give customers what they need, not what they THINK they want:

I salute you, Amazon. You look after the little man with class.

RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By Dorkyman on 6/30/2011 2:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
I support the right of people to throw their money away on anything at all, or even burn it in their fireplace if that's what they want to do.

Any cable designed to meet a particular spec will meet that spec. Monster is notorious for inventing false advantages ("Our cables are insulated with whale-free polyethylene! No free radicals to spoil your deep bass experience!) in order to carve out an extreme-price market niche.

This is NOT to say that these cables don't meet the spec. I assume they do. It's just that the other far-less-expensive cables do, also.

If the consumer is too dumb to realize they've been had, so be it.

RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2011 3:32:22 PM , Rating: 4
It's just a shame that the average consumer doesn't understand what digital means. The quality of the cable does NOT matter, if the 1 to 1 digital signal can pass through, it will sound as good as a $20,000 braided gold strand cable.

I saw a cool demonstration once of someone who used a metal coat hanger for the conducting material of an audio cable. Out of hundreds of audiophile types comparing the sound quality of a Monster Cable to the coat hanger cable in a double blind test, none of them could actually say which one sounded better.

RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By cjohnson2136 on 6/30/2011 3:46:00 PM , Rating: 3

RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By quiksilvr on 6/30/2011 3:57:14 PM , Rating: 3
It's all about shielding. Sure you can get the signal across, but how long does the cable last before it gets messed up?

That's why MediaBridge is awesome, they show you exactly what makes it better:

And they still keep it under $10.

RE: Apple is Monster Cable
By Reclaimer77 on 6/30/2011 5:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
OH and I'm sure Monster will say their "shielding" is worth $20 alone. It's a crock.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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