Thunderbolt is a collaboration between Apple and Intel that brings the ability to connect high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single port. It was originally introduced on the MacBook Pro and is now featured on the iMac and Mac Mini. If this technology comes to iPhones and iPads, it would allow for much faster data transfers as well as a faster charging.
The clause that has started the speculation is in the second patent application where Apple states, "the present invention, connection may also be a new type of connection." For example, "a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display, a computer and a portable media player, or between other types of devices."
Patently Apple points out the rest of the filings indicate Apple may be attempting to create its own cabling to handle Thunderbolt connections. A new connecter would be required if Apple wanted to add a Thunderbolt port to a device that is as thin as an iPad or iPhone because the current standard that matches the mini DisplayPort is too thick for mobile devices.
While this isn’t something we expect to see announced in the near future, it does make sense as a long term strategy considering Apple’s investment into Thunderbolt in the rest of its Mac lineup.
source: Patently Apple via Mobile Beat