It appears that a recent patent filed by Apple to the United States Patent and Trademark Office has some notebook vendors a little worried, at least according to industry tracking site DigiTimes. That being the case, you might imagine that the patent is quite brilliant - but not so. It is useful, however: a combination USB + SD card slot. Combination ports have been around for ages, so this isn't anything to get too excited over, but with it, Apple will be able to either remove an entire port from its MacBooks, or replace the card reader of old with a USB port.
For those who don't want to fetch a cable to transfer files from their camera over to their PC, card readers are invaluable. But in the grand scheme, I'd be willing to bet that most notebook owners never even touch the slot, so to have a combined option, especially one that can potentially add another USB port, it's an attractive idea.
Of course, adding another USB port isn't the only option here. With a removal of the traditional card reader, Apple could simply gain more room to slim things down even further. However, as Apple's MacBook Air is already a very thin notebook, I have to wonder just how far the company is going to go on its quest for thinness. I can't be the only one that actually doesn't like super-thin notebooks!
There's also the possibility of Apple licensing out this design if it's indeed granted the patent, although it's hard to say whether or not that would actually happen.