While there has been a lot of focus on bitcoin ASIC devices that miners like you and I can buy, it does not mean that they are the only bitcoin ASIC devices that are been worked on.
While Butterfly Labs, Avalon and BTCFPGA have been hard at work trying to be the first to bring an ASIC to your desktop another company has been working on a different business model, and according to today's announcement on BitcoinTalk ASICMiner looks like it may have jumped into first place in the race for bitcoin ASIC devices.
Before you crack open your copy of Bitcoin-QT though, I have to state again, ASICMiner are running a totally different business model and try as you might you are most likely never going to get one of their devices on your desk.
To get in on ASICMiner you would have had to bought one (or more) of the 200,000 shares that were listed on the now defunct bitcoin security's site GLBSE back in August 2012. When GLBSE shut down they took any chance to buy shares with them, along with the list of shareholders that had actually bought shares. Fortunately after a lot of emails though, it seems that the ASICMiner crew managed to recover the share registry.
Even if you were one of the few that actually managed to get ASIC shares you still will not be receiving a shiny new ASIC device from them, under ASICMiner's business plan they do the mining for you in their own facilities with their own staff. It is the few that managed to get in on the IPO float on GLBSE who will share in the bitcoins mined.
You may ask why I am brining this up now, but there is a very good reason, this shaky photo taken with a camera phone earlier today;-
What you are looking at according the announcement is 95 ASIC's (Yes, I zoomed in and counted them) apparently capable of 30 GHash/s.
It has to be said though 30 GHash/s is not going to be making much of a dent in the current 20,000 GHash/s capability of the bitcoin network as a whole but it is a start, a sort of beginning of then end for every other bitcoin mining device out there (and they also don't say that only 95 ASIC's were received or that this was the only shipment).
It will be a while until we see the evidence of these ASIC's on the bitcoin network and difficulty, they still need to finish the manufacturing process mounting them on PCB's with all of the other electronics necessary to make them start to chew through SHA256 hash's but many (including myself) will be watching http://blockchain.info/pools and http://bitcoindifficulty.com/ for the first signs of change.