All Great Things Must Come to an End.

Right now you are looking at a dinosaur. Not your computer, your optical drive. It’s probably right in front of your eyes (or just off to the side if you are on a MacBook like me). For the non-nerds reading this (not that I am saying a non-nerd would be interested in a blog called “Hot Tub Crime Machine” but humor me), I’m talking about your computer’s DVD player.

Think about it. When was the last time you even used yours?

The last time I used mine was probably two years ago when I got Spore. After a week or so of watching my amoebas grow into little dinosaurs I put the disc back in its case and haven’t touched it, or the DVD drive, since.

We’ve seen this before. 5.25″ floppies gave way to 3.5″ floppies (which weren’t floppy at all). Those yielded to the vast storage of the CD-ROM which in turn were devoured by the DVD. And then there were the format wars of 2007 which gave us the Blue-ray disc. And computer manufacturers rushed to add Blue-ray players to their machines.

Except Apple. Apple never even acknowledged Blue-ray. Because Blue-ray was too short-sighted. While much better than traditional DVDs it was still basically the same thing.  Apple saw the way the wind was blowing. And they seized on it.

They predicted the rise of the app culture, and then fueled it with the iPhone and iPod touch. And then the iPad. And then the Mac App store. And somewhere in the middle they released the MacBook Air with no optical drive. Sure it helped the machine be super-light and super-slim, but it was also a test. A test to see if anyone would notice, or care, that they didn’t need discs anymore.

They passed. With flying colors.

And later this year, when Apple releases Lion, their new OS, there probably won’t be a disc available. You’ll download it from the App store, it will install itself, and you will be off and running. Maybe they will mail out some USB flash drives for everyone who wants to leapfrog the Snow Leopard OS (myself included), who don’t have access to the App store. I hope so, because it would be a pretty shitty experience to have to buy Snow Leopard just so I could download Lion. But would I put it past them? Unfortunately no.

There will of course be hiccups. You won’t be able to get the new OS (or any new software) without an internet connection – and a high-speed one at that. But the days of not being connected are also coming to an end. Unless you live in rural america. You are also dependent on the App store to be up to get your software. Remember when the iPhone 4 was released and both Apple and AT&T’s websites were unable to sustain the onslaught of people trying to order one? That’s what it could be like every time a new OS comes out. Or a major game release.

And what about the stores that sell software? They rely on the crowds lining up for the new operating system, or the next Call of Duty: Black Ops to grab up impluse items, add-ons, and other higher margin products at the same time. If all new software purchases happen online, what happens to the brick and mortar retailers? Oh yeah, the same thing that happened to the brick and mortar bookstores.

Whether you like it or not it’s happening. So instead of fighting it, start thinking about what your computer could do if you didn’t have to have a DVD player with it’s lasers and moving parts taking up so much space ? You could cut a ton of weight. You could add in a huge battery. You could put in more powerful processors and larger cooling units. The possibilities are endless.

So mourn the DVD for a brief moment, but don’t shed too many tears. It’s time has been up for far too long.

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About Ezra Englebardt
Account planner, digital nerd, marketing guru, tweeter, facebooker, occasional blogger, cyclist, snowboarder, mountain biker, social media junkie and avid reader. CU-Boulder and Boston College alum. Frequent guest speaker in Boston-area universities.

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