Has the signalling been shown to be the weak link? Last time I measured, the transfer speed didn't approach the max practical line limit. Thunderbolt requires a separate host chip, that separate chip is why Apple dropped Firewire from the iPod line, it's incompatible with the idea of compact devices when you have unnecessary chips. To get faster, all they need to do is support USB 3, which is on most new computers anyway.
If it's a better connection, why not? mini-USB is largely friction based, this looks smooth with a detent on the end. I've also seen two different mini-USB connectors, four and five pin. They don't interchange.
I would suggest the new connector is better for this use, because it's not just a cable connector, it's also a dock connector, and I would submit this would have more repeatable, more reliable connectivity than mini-USB.
Did you read http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/152341/apple-adapters-for-new-9-pin-dock-to-cost-10-cables-will-be-19-report
At least at first Apple will be the sole supplier of the new dock connector cables, of course it's a rumor, but so is the whole new dock connector
The rumored prices are good though. With the exception of Monoprice, I've had bad luck with less expensive dock cables.
When I saw those smooth notches on the edges, I too was thinking of this detent possibility.
I think it's a brilliant design and far better than micro-A USB. It shows what just a little original thinking can do, even to a cable.
By putting the metal on the outside they achieve the same thing as the fragile, ugly shielding on the current cables. By making it plain old male-female, instead of female/male-male/female like the current cables they make it far simpler and easier to use. By hollowing out the metal tang and putting the wires down the middle it achieves perfect shielding and excellent and exacting fit and finish. By making a window in each side for the contacts, it makes it reversible.
This is never going to be interoperable with USB (as the article incorrectly implies) however because the whole point of the cable is actually the circuitry inside.
Interoperable on the other end, but point is taken. I think this is to make docks better. This connector looks to be more ruggedly designed too. I don't think mini-USB is designed for daily insertions.