The USB Promoter Group — an industry consortium that sets the standards for the USB protocol — said Tuesday that it had finalized the specifications for the USB Type-C plug, a new type of reversible connector that will eventually replace all types of existing USB cables.
The USB Type-C connector is similar in size to a regular Micro-USB cable, but it’s reversible — meaning the same style of port will be at both ends similar to the design of Apple’s Lightening connector. The USB Promoter Group is targeting all sorts of devices for the new cable, from laptops, tablets, printers, cameras and phones. The connector’s ports will measure approximately 8.4mm by 2.6mm.
Adapters will be available soon to ensure that legacy USB Type-A and Type-B USB cables are cross-compatible.
The Type-C connector has 18 pins, and supports up to 10Gbps of throughput and up to 100 watts of power via USB 3.1.
USB’s big challenge
It’s easy to see that the USB Promoter Group would like USB Type-C and USB 3.1 to shape up to be an effective challenger to Apple’s Thunderbolt. However, the big problem USB faces right now is that unlike Apple’s Thunderbolt — which is a relatively new standard with low market penetration — there are already hundreds of millions, if not billions, of USB devices already on the market. USB Type-C has a long uphill battle to penetrate this already saturated market.
There are no hints as to when exactly devices supporting USB Type-C are expected on the market, but since the spec has just finalized mid-2015 would likely be the earliest.