The 9-pin "Lightning" connector used with the iPhone 5 and 2012 iPods offers many advantages over the old 30-pin connector, including a smaller size and reversibility. However, does it offer faster data transfers? Was this update only for aesthetics? Or does the 9-pin actually offer something more?
The lightning cable in terms of USB speed is not any faster than the cable it replaces according to the Apple Store product description for the Lightning to USB Cable
It is still only rated to be a USB 2.0 cable, so that implies all the currently just released devices with the new Lightning connector are still USB 2.0.
So as far as USB connectivity and transfers go it can only go as fast as USB 2.0 allows, which should make it an equal with the old 30-pins usb interface.
The all digital aspect might be a plus for some users / uses, eg outputting to digital audio devices directly, but even that is unclear, it not really clear what all you can do with the new interface.
Although one point taken from the Media event slides is "Adaptive interface", not sure what that means exactly, but it may mean that hardware & software developers may be able to program how the pins can be used to interact with devices and accessories. If that is true that could be a huge long term benefit from this major re-factoring of the interface connector for iOS devices.