Apple's recent efforts show why the optical disc drive deserves to die

Apple wants to kill the disc drive. And, now that that I think about it, so do I.

I'm going to be honest: I can't remember the last time I used my MacBook's disc drive. My best guess? The day I bought the latest Kanye album - and even then only to upload the tracks to my music library. Since then, the MacBook's disc drive has been the computing equivalent to a kitchen nutcracker - only I can't get rid of it because its an inextricable part of my computer.

So I'm not exactly surprised that Apple is continuing its efforts to rid its products of the disc drive. Nor am I, on further inspection, particularly upset by it.

Apple's goals could not be clearer, and are inscribed in multiple places in its recent product announcements. The Mac mini? No optical drive. Same thing for the MacBook Air, which is replacing the dear, sweet MacBook. Apple has even gone as far as to make Lion, the most recent release of OSX, available primarily via the Mac Store. (Want a physical copy? $69 - double the price of the digital version.) The latest versions of iWork, iLife, and Aperture 3 have also seen a similar shift. Lion recovery efforts on the new models will be done via either the hard drive or the Internet. No discs, no mess.

Apple's reasons for this should be clear: It's trying to kill the optical drive. And you know what? The optical drive deserves to die. Like many mediums before it, the disc is making the slow march towards obsolesce, not because it's no good, but because its no longer good enough.

And in its reliance on the disc, the disc drive is in direct defiance of our modern demand for the instant. Discs are falling into the old world forces of supply and demand, shipping, destruction. The immaterial future is none of those things - and it's exactly what we (think we) want.

Put that way, I have no choice but to applaud Apple's axing. Not that it takes tremendous foresight to see that disc-based media don't have a particularly long time left to live. But it does take initiative. And common sense.

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