Many have decried the lack of USB 3.0 connectivity in Apple's latest MacBook Pro lineup, with the company instead opting for the new Thunderbolt I/O interface. Despite this, the unearthing of a patent granted to the company for a hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 high speed dock connector suggests support for the high speed connection may be making its way into the next generation of Apple's iOS devices. And with Thunderbolt using the Mini DisplayPort connector, Apple may finally be answering the call for greater connectivity options for its mobile devices.

The 2009 patent is one of eight newly granted patents that has just been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by patent tracking site Patently Apple. The patent details an all-new Hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 high-speed connector that not only brings support for USB 3.0 and presumably Thunderbolt, but does so with a new dock connector that is slimmer than the current 30-pin connector. Such a slimmed down connector could pave the way for even slimmer iOS devices with the latest generation iPod touch already as slim as it can get using the current connector.

Although the patent illustrates the new connector for use on an iPod, it also states that it applies for all future Mac hardware as well. Patently Apple speculates that the new connector may appear later this year in updates to Apple's mobile devices or in 2012 when Macs with USB 3.0 are expected to hit the market. But while such an inclusion would no doubt be welcomed by consumers, the patent could still be nothing more than a defensive move by Apple to ward off competitors. We hope that's not the case.

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