New versions of the Mac Mini and MacBook Air have eliminated optical drives used for CDs and DVDs, which signifies the imminent death of tangible media completely as USB connectivity and digital marketplaces become the popular means for file transferring.
As trends show, more and more computer users are streaming and downloading content digitally rather than amassing tangible media. Apple's elimination of the optical drive on its latest models, the Mac mini and MacBook Air released in July, indicates the probable decline of CD and DVD usage, similar to the deterioration of floppy disks.
Floppy disks fell off the deep end as recordable CDs and digital file sharing and transfer appeared, causing the 3.5 inch data storage device to be obsolete. But now, the fate of disks and tangible media altogether are becoming outdated as USB drives and digital downloading reign as the latest convenient method for file sharing without any data space limitations.
So is Apple the forerunner in the riddance of optical drives? Not quite. Netbooks, manufactured by a slew of well-known electronics companies, never included an optical drive built into their device. Netbook users, along with smartphone and tablet computer owners, digitally download any software or media they use right from individual manufacturers websites or through digital marketplaces rather than from CDs or DVDs.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has pointed out in a statement back in 2008 that CDs, particularly Blueray discs, are becoming obsolete as the digital trend continues to spread for file transferring.
"Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD - like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats," Jobs said.
Apple has since spearheaded iTunes and the Mac App Store as an alternative for purchasing and downloading software and media via digital means. PCs have countless options for purchasing media and software along with access to Apple markets, as well.
A recent demand for tablet computers and smartphones, which are too small and thin to include optical drives, has further proven the dwindling need for optical drives, as the only option for downloading is through digital marketplaces or USB connectivity.
According to a statement made by Gartner research firm analysis Sergis Mushell to MSNBC, as devices get thinner and smaller to accommodate consumer demands for portability, common features like optical drives must be removed.
"There is a move toward no optical drives, primarily driven by form factor, because thinner is the goal," Mushell said. "Thinner is better these days."
Mushell also points out that by ridding of the optical drive, the battery life is lengthened as optical drives significantly drain battery power.
It comes as no surprise the Mac Mini got rid of its optical drive since it is known as one of the smallest desktop computers on the market. The exclusion has given the retail price a $100 discount, pricing the new Mac mini at $599.