Why are there so many different types of USB cables?
Similar to operating systems, subsequent versions change. The reason there are so many versions of USB cables is that manufacturers continue to find ways to increase their transfer rate and power delivery. As the performance changes, so does the hardware; thus leading to a new and different version.
How many versions are there?
USB has gone through many version revisions including USB 1.0, USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, and USB Type-C, the latest generation. USB 1.0 through 3.1 had the same connector, while USB Type-C added a symmetrical connector.
Additionally, there are USB cables designed for a range of devices like, smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and certain hard drives that use a smaller connection called Mini/Micro USB. Both Mini USB and Micro USB cables have two connector types each, bringing the total to over ten.