macbook air slays the cd

MacBook AirApple’s new laptop has shown there is no longer a need for an optical drive in today’s portable computers, perhaps causing many buyers to ask “Where do I put my CD!?”. The MacBook Air, just released at Apple’s 2008 MacWorld, is being called “the world’s thinnest laptop”, but what I find most interesting is what’s missing: the CD drive.

Optical drives have been compulsory in computers since their invention but the new MacBook Air has bucked the trend. It offers no optical drive. Why? “because MacBook Air is built for the wireless world”.  While a US$99 External Superdrive (CD/DVD Drive) is an available extra, the Air is designed to integrate with the iTunes Music Store, providing it with music, music video, audio book, and podcast download as well as the new movie rentals. Apple allows one other method for those who still use CD’s: the Air can pick up other computer’s optical drives and use them as if they were local drives. But the decade-old CD has still taken a big hit.

CD’s rose to power in the 90’s and reigned as portable media storage king until the early 2000’s. Flash drives, iPods and other mp3 players have taken away some of the market. But the Macbook Air is a major blow to the familiar CD, and may herald its final demise. Apple is giving us a glimpse into the future: where CD’s are no where to be seen, but data is transferred wirelessly. Music and video won’t be the only thing downloaded over the web: software will be purchased and paid for online, with the application being downloaded to the customer’s computer. Backup won’t be on bundles on CD, but to a Time Capsule or similar device. Music will be sold entirely online, to be synced onto iPod’s on mp3 players.

The Compact Disc will be thrown aside with the vinyl record, cassette tape and floppy disc.
And I can’t say I’m too sad about that.

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