Apple faces a considerable threat as USB 2.0 makes inroads into FireWire’s territory, Charles Haddad opines in his latest
Byte of the Apple column for BusinessWeek Online .
“In the coming months, the two technologies will lock wires in a classic dust-up in the world of electronic devices,” Haddad writes. “The marketing muscle behind USB will be pitted against the technical prowess of FireWire. Historically in such contests, marketing muscle has won most of the time, with Windows’ success serving as the textbook example.”
The columnist notes that, for the moment, FireWire offers much higher performance and more market penetration. However, Intel has incorporated USB 2.0 into its newest chipsets, 845G and 845GL.
“Essentially, the giant chipmaker is giving away USB 2.0 as part of its new microprocessors,” Haddad says. “Apple recognizes the emerging threat of USB 2.0. It’s readying a new version of FireWire that doubles the transfer speed. The trade group that oversees FireWire, the 1394 Assn., has ratified the new version, and it’s expected to hit the market by yearend.”
He notes that Apple needs for FireWire to remain the standard. It’s crucial to the company’s digital hub strategy.
“As the stylish alternative, Macs must work as seamlessly as possible with Wintel computers,” Haddad writes. “Right now, FireWire enables video to flow easily between Macs and PCs. But USB 2.0, if it’s successful, could raise a big gate locking Mac users out of the mainstream of digital-media computing.”