The new MacBook sheds MagSafe connectors, ThunderBolt ports, and traditional USB, for a single, all-new, USB-C type plug that can provide power, data, video, and more. While it may have seemed like it came out of nowhere, it really came out of the continued drive to make computers simpler and saner for as many people as possible. John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball:
Only that from what I've been told, Apple ought to be getting (and taking) credit as the leading company behind USB-C's innovations. Not that they "invented" it, but that they "basically invented" it. I completely stand by that. But there are a lot of politics involved. One reason Apple isn't taking more public credit for their role: they truly want USB-C to see widespread adoption; a perception that it's an Apple technology might slow that down.
John also points out how Apple-like the USB-C connector is. That's probably why the company doesn't feel the need to take any credit for it. What's important here isn't who spear-headed the new connector — it's that it got done and out into the world. That it does what Apple needs is evident. Provided it's adopted at scale, it will do much, much more for everyone who wants standardized, readily available peripherals. So, good job to all.
For more on USB-C, here are a few really good primers:
USB-C is currently only available in the new MacBook, which will ship in April. Obviously, that's only the beginning.