Apple has won an
Emmy for its FireWire technology, but it’s even better news that FireWire is poised to become ubiquitous, reporter Ian Fried said in a CNET
Though Apple developed FireWire, also known by its technical moniker of IEEE 1394, the company has actively licensed the technology. For instance, yesterday chipmaker
Texas Instruments demonstrated the next version
of the technology, known as 1394.b, which will double the speed at which data can be shared, to 800 megabits per second. The new standard also allows FireWire to carry data over longer distances, using fiber-optic cables as well as traditional copper wiring.
Of course, there was at least one big roadblock on the road to FireWire’s current success. In 1999, there was talk that Apple was going to charge companies US$1 for each use of the technology. That led Intel and others to come up with USB 2.0, with plans to have it on the market by the end of 2000. However, Apple and other patent holders settled on a more reasonable rate, according to CNET. Those wanting to incorporate FireWire now pay 25 cents for each device that uses FireWire to license the relevant patents from Apple and others.
“We’ve removed all those barriers, and it is very easy to license,” Tom Bogar, Apple’s worldwide director of Power Mac marketing, told CNET.
And even at the two-bit rate, the royalties add up. Several major Wintel makers started using the port as early as 1999, with nearly all the major players now incorporating FireWire ports on at least some models, CNET said. Last year, there were somewhere between 18 million and 20 million personal computers shipped with 1394 ports, according to the trade association, or roughly 15 percent of the market.
“There are plans to take the IEEE 1394 standard further,” reporter Ian Fried wrote. “Besides the speed bump that comes with 1394.b, there are also plans for a wireless version of the specification that would allow computers to use the IEEE 1394 standard to send data over wireless networks, such as those using the 802.11 standard.”