Freeze, lastholes: USB-C and Thunderbolt are the ultimate physical ports

The world's run out of reasons for new connectors but is in no rush to adopt the newbies

USB-C and Thunderbolt are the last mainstream connections devices will need to the outside world, according to analyst firm ABI Research.

The company's new Device Connectivity Report predicts that by the year 2020 “Almost half of the smartphones and 93% of laptops will include USB Type-C connectivity.” In coming years we'll also see gadget-makers will offer “fewer connectivity types and ports per device as the industry steadily transitions toward wireless solutions and cable-free devices.”

ABI analyst Andrew Zigani opines that “USB-Type C and Thunderbolt 3.0 will be the last major physical ports to gain major significance and mainstream traction.”

Next up? Wi-Gig, aka 802.11ad, which has already made it on to some business laptop vendors' feature lists for 2016 and is expected to become more common in coming years. WiGig can handle video traffic to displays or general purpose data. WiGig Docks are starting to emerge, but before long it's expected the standard will appear in devices like televisions, projectors and monitors.

Of course there are untold millions of such devices out there, most of which are good for years more use. Further, nobody is suggesting wireless charging pads are going to become so ubiquitous that we can all do without mains connections. So chances are gadgets will need at least one physical port for the foreseeable future.

But Zignani reckons there's no need for the industry to consider mainstream connectors beyond USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.0. And seeing as Intel last year decided it's happy for the USB-C port to handle Thunderbolt traffic, rather than its own physical port design, we're on track for a single standard hole for most portable devices any year now.

And best of all, that hole will be reversible! ®

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