Adapters that Apple taxes heavily because of the iPod connector tax. Beyound that many adapters are forced to tie themselves with a specific piece of software. All this ends up meaning one thing, expensive I/O.
These are all good reasons to want to have a USB port. I've never understood why people dismiss these and others out of hand. Or worst offer up the kludge of the camera connection kit.
There is ample justification for rants due to the missing SD slot and to a lesser extent the USB port. The SD slot should be a no brainer and further cost Apple very little in the way of battery life issues.
USB on the other hand is admittedly a more complex issue.
Put that port in and many would expect profile support and drivers for everything. Currently there is no mechanism that I know of to install those drivers so that is a problem. Beyound that there is a real problem of power usage. Even with these negatives and others., I still think Apple could provide a reasonable amount of USB functionality. Even with TB USB will be around for just about ever.
I think you could be wrong here on a couple of accounts. One is that TB needs low-cost end points to be successful, so either Apple or Intel must be working on a less involved solution. That is a TB chip that handles the interfacing of the PCI - E stream to other bus structures.
The other issue is that Apple could easily add PCI Express lanes to the A5 or latter versions. In fact PA Semi was noted for their serial I/O lines. The point is just because a system doesn't have PCI - E today doesn't imply it won't be there tomorrow.
Finally if they do support TB in a future model it will likely be when they can integrate directly into the SoC. That could imply a limited functionality end point. No matter what the software development is non trivial.
Electrically and mechanically it is no big deal.
This isn't the case at all. Many USB devices require drivers, many from third party sources. I believe one of the reasons Apple calls the USB dongle a camera connection kit is simply that they don't want to support anything else. By calling the dongle a camera connection kit and not a USB interface they are not under any obligation to support other devices.
In the end supporting USB hardware is trivial. Support USBs software requirements isn't at all.
(PS: After the first 10 minutes I wasn't planning to spend a lot of hours looking at the side to see if it looks "cluttered.")
I honestly think these cries of cluttered come from people with simple minds. There is a massive untouched potential in iPad and iPad like devices. Some of those potentials require communicating with the outside physical world. If a person doesn't see beyond what is provided to him than obviously flexibility and adaptability is seen as clutter.
After a few minutes of use nobody would even notice the port. Beyond the software and marketing issues the port isn't a big deal.
In some ways I'm very pleased with the new iPad. I'm more bothered by Apples sleazy hide the specs game. Especially the important one related to the RAM and to a lesser extent the lack of details with respect to the processor. As to looks I will have to see it in a store before I pass judgement. I know with iPad one picking up the unit in the store and playing with it changes your opinion very quickly.
In any event I just wanted to point out that TB could very well be in the running for future iPads. The lack of a PCI Express facility on current hardware means nothing.