Is FireWire Technology Nearing Its End?

During a recent Apple event liveblog, I was completely engrossed as an Apple enthusiast. The unveiling of the new MacBook’s specifications had me seriously considering selling my BlackBook from August 2007 on eBay or Craigslist. I hoped to fetch around $900 by including upgrades to the RAM and hard drive, along with some software, to fund the new purchase.

However, my excitement was short-lived when it was announced that the new MacBook models would no longer feature FireWire 400 ports. The older MacBook model, now priced at $999, still includes this port, but the latest models do not.

This was a significant letdown, especially since we had previously discussed the potential removal of FireWire from the MacBook lineup on our Talkcast.

The decision to remove FireWire, whether due to consumer feedback or as a strategy to differentiate between consumer and professional models (as suggested by Kai Cherry), marks the end of an era for a technology that Apple has promoted for nearly a decade. This technology was integral for external devices, target-disk mode, and digital video applications, and now it’s only available on the MacBook Pro and the older white MacBook models.

No other company has championed IEEE-1394 (FireWire’s technical name) as vigorously as Apple (Sony comes close). The iPod itself was a FireWire device until the fifth generation in 2004, with USB adapters introduced for the third and fourth generations. Target Disk Mode remains one of the most valuable diagnostic tools for Macs, allowing safe data migration, repairs, and tests without risking internal drive damage.

Currently, there’s no real support for USB devices in target disk mode.

Although booting from a USB device is possible, it doesn’t offer the same functionality as TDM. It’s disappointing to see such a useful feature being phased out without a clear replacement. While I’m not looking to ignite a debate over USB 2.0 versus FireWire 400, it’s undeniable that FireWire offers superior sustained transfer rates, lower power consumption, and the ability to daisy-chain devices, particularly under OS X.

Despite the decline of FireWire-only devices, with newer digital camcorders and most external devices now using USB 2.0, it’s premature to label FireWire as a “pros only” feature. It took a long time for consumers to transition from VHS-C to miniDV, and not everyone has moved to AVCHD or digitized their old footage.

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Mark is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing insightful and engaging content to Apple enthusiasts around the world. With a deep understanding of Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, Mark’s articles offer readers valuable tips, news, and reviews. His expertise in the tech industry, combined with a knack for clear and concise writing, makes him a trusted voice in the Apple community. When he’s not writing, Mark enjoys exploring the latest apps and software updates, always staying ahead of the curve.