When Apple finally released OSX Lion last week, they also announced some new hardware. We will most likely get back to Lion at a later stage (it is starting to grow on me the more I use it) but if there is one thing that we learn from the hardware releases, one clear message Apple are sending to the public at large, it has to do with optical media.
First of all we got the updated MacBook Airs. I happen to be a MacBook Air user myself, the 13 inch variety from late 2010, and for those of you who are familiar with that machine, you will remember that it comes with no optical drive whatsoever. When I ordered the machine I automatically included the external DVD drive in the purchase. My thinking was: I am going to need a drive to put discs in. Logical right ? Well, here's the thing: more than 7 months have gone by and I have yet to attach that drive to the computer.
The Mac mini was updated as well. Did you happen to see that little beauty ? Great looking machine. Notice something different on this new arrival ? You got it: no optical drive.
Anyone remember the introduction of the first iMac in 1998 ? Remember what was missing from that machine ? Apple dared introduce a new computer "sans" floppy drive. Everybody said they were crazy. How could people possibly use a computer without a floppy drive ? Well, they're at it again. It is no coincidence that the new Mac mini has no optical drive. The same goes for the MacBook Air. And I will go as far as venturing that pretty soon the new MacBook Pros won't have any either (in fact I am fairly certain that the next iteration of the 15 inch MacBook Pro will look a lot more like the Air than like the current Pro).
How have I been living without an optical drive ? Very simple really: everything gets downloaded. Between the App Store, iTunes, Amazon mp3, Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, Dropbox and soon iCloud, there is no point to burning shiny little discs anymore. Let's not even talk about more questionable methods like peer to peer services. Everything is a lot more instantaneous. Lion doesn't come on a disc. Apps get updated over the internet. And now with Lion's cool new AirDrop feature, even the old sneakernet method is "out the window".
So my advice is: embrace this brand new world of discless machines. One day we will look back on a past in whcih we carried around these shiny little things and smile at how primitive they were.
It was so long ago. It was only yesterday.