July 26, 2011

Apple Says Buh-Bye to DVD Drive

First, it was the white MacBook. Now Apple (News - Alert) is bidding adieu to DVD drives in its Mac Mini.

With everything moving towards “the cloud,” it might make sense that drives in general will become legacy features, but for those of us who still enjoy a physical DVD, the only option with these computers is to purchase a separate external drive.

Most applications that consumers want to use are digitally available and can be downloaded from an app store or the vendors website. For the most part, people will be able to do away with DVD drives, but not all software can be digitally downloaded. Another counterpoint and possible issue for users is that not everyone has big Internet packages with their home service providers.

An article posted on MSNBC has raised the question of whether CD and DVD optical drives are on their way to obsolescence.

The article quoted Sergis Mushell, an analyst with the Gartner (News - Alert) research firm as saying, “Optical drives require motors to spin the disc, and this uses more battery. Companies are taking out motorized drives to improve battery life.”

Apple’s latest software offering, OS X Lion, illustrates the migration from discs to downloads pretty well. Right now you can opt to download Lion from the App Store for $29.99 or you can choose to purchase a physical copy for $69 in August. But don’t expect it on a disc. The software comes on a pre-loaded USB stick.

More interesting than the updates and additions on July 20th was the lone omission. The white, plastic MacBook was put down. At $999 the new MacBook Air is the one that is lacking any semblance of a drive. One can only assume Apple is making a push for a cloud-based future.

But Apple isn’t the first to give optical drives the boot, so the buzz about it might make one wonder what the big deal is.

Netbooks, which were the rage from a few years ago, also eliminated the DVD drives to try and keep the hardware costs as low as possible. Google’s Chromebooks all lack the hardware, as does Samsung’s (News - Alert) Series 9 laptop.

Perhaps we can all safely assume that hardware, at least in the PC realm, is on its last legs?

As tablets start to take the forefront of mobile computing devices, one might say that yes, optical drives will become a thing of the past.

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Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell