The new Mac Minis won’t be able to play CDs or DVDs, because the optical drive has been taken out and the Thunderbolt port has been installed. Apple and Intel collaborated on Thunderbolt, which will now be a standard feature across the entire MacBook Pro line as well. Thunderbolt (previously called Light Peak) is a new peripheral-connection technology, developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, that combines data, video, audio, and power in a single connection.
It’s unclear whether Apple and Intel are attempting to make Thunderbolt an electrical standard similar to the USB, however the idea of a single port and connector seems appealing to Apple’s minimalist ways. Will Thunderbolt eventually replace FireWire and USB on Macs? Perhaps, although “eventually” could be a very long time. Thunderbolt is brand new, and as such it will be a while before it becomes anywhere near as commonplace as USB and FireWire.
It’s no secret that Apple has boldly moved technology forward in the past. Skeptics didn’t understand the original iPod’s digital-files-only concept at a time when CDs were still popular. If the technology is widely adopted over the next few years then users will eventually be able to connect all sorts of devices like printers, cameras, and smartphones to the same Thunderbolt cable.