Monday, July 25, 2011

CDs and DVDs Are The New 8 Tracks

Quick question - how many of you still play "records" on a turntable? Play 8 track tapes? Cassette tapes? Probably not many.

Do you play CDs or DVDs? Sure! Everyone does.

For now.

All that is about to change. As with most cultural/technical change it's Apple that's leading the way. They just came out with a new version of their OS X operating system ("Lion") - and for the first time - they are distributing it electronically only. No DVD install. No shrink-wrapped boxes in the store....

... and ... cue the but-I-only-have-dialup-because-I-live-in-the-boonies crowd and the but-we've-always-had-a-backup-on-disc crowd...

These holders-on-of-the-past were all howling on their blogs and social media before Lion came out - but Apple remained defiant. Until last week when they announced that they would offer a USB drive with Lion on it for $69 sometime in August (the download version is $29.99).

But regardless of Apple's momentary lapse - it's coming.

There will be a day in the not-too-distant future when Apple won't offer a thumb drive. Don't forget Apple was the first major manufacturer to start shipping the 3-1/2" drives in 1984 and was also the first to stop including a 1.44MB floppy drive with their iMac computers in 1998 - opting instead for the newer technology - the CD.

Apple was one of the first companies to ditch the CD altogether (MacBook Air) in favor of downloaded digital music and downloaded applications. They also were one of the first to bring out a device with a portable solid state drive (SSD) with no moving parts so people could take their music where ever they went.
A little something they called an "iPod."

We all know about how Apple changed the mobile phone market forever (the screen is the interface! who needs buttons! give us visual voicemail!), it also changed the tablet market forever (there was no market before the iPad). Apple tends to have a finger on the pulse of what "real people" want - and they solve real world problems, and then they make money, and then everyone else tries to do something similar.

We're seeing it in other areas, too. Borders book stores announced on Friday it was shutting down. Netflix (and to a lesser degree Hulu) killed off Blockbuster stores. Your cable company is offering movies "on demand." Google has teamed up with Sony and Logitech to combine the web with TV (Google TV). High schools and colleges are running pilot programs for students to rent their textbooks on their iPads. At the beginning of May 2011 Amazon said that Kindle eBook sales had surpassed sales of hardbacks and paperbacks combined.

In the future you won't be able to go to a kiosk and rent a DVD. Or go into a "music store" and buy a CD. Or go into a "book store" and read a book.

Nope - it will all become digital bits that you rent or buy and then download or stream into your life. Entertainment is becoming like those annoying in-room movie rental interfaces where you use the remote to buy a movie and they charge it to your room. Sure, you can watch "live" TV (for now) - with all the commercials (that you just record [digitally] on your DVR and skip through when you watch it at a more convenient time) - but that will become (is?) passe.

There are still CD players in most cars and DVD players in most minivans. For now. In a foreshadowing of what's to come Ford has stopped offering the (once cool!) multi-CD changer in its latest model Focus, opting instead for a wireless bluetooth connection to your mobile device (for phone calls and to play your music) and a digital satellite radio. They've even teamed up with Microsoft to offer Ford Synch - an operating system for all your entertainment/calls/traffic/news in your automobile.

There are refrigerators with Internet access and a screen built-in. There are televisions with built-in video cameras for George Jetson-like video phone calls. Clothing retailer H&M came out with an online store where you can go into a virtual dressing room and create a digital model of yourself and try on clothes to see how they look. Your smartphone functions as your camera and HD video recorder and allows you to upload that picture or video to the Internet where ever you are in the world while Twitter and Facebook are becoming the sources for breaking news.

Yes, my friends - the all-digital age is coming full force.

The good news is that coffee shops and restaurants will be safe from the digitization of humanity! Until they work out the Wonka 3-meal gum... oh wait, they are working on it...

OK, until they invent that thingie in the Jetsons where you can rehydrate an entire meal from a pill - there's hope that we won't all just wind up digital hermits going through life in our isolation chamber while looking at a screen...


servoyguru said...

Bob, I still, occasionally, listen to a record/LP on my lovely Linn Sondek LP12. No digital music player sounds as good as a decent analogue player (unless you want to spend ridiculous amounts of money, but then you can do the same in the analogue realm and get better results...)

Bob Cusick said...

Ah, yes - a true audiophile! That's awesome. I'm afraid I was never bitten by that particular "bug"... you must have an amazing collection to be played on such an awesome turntable!

Web Analytics