Apple’s designs are beautiful. Art, even, for some. It is in part because of their iconic designs that they’ve been able to see such phenomenal success recently, raking in billions of dollars. Now, they have more money than the US Government. Although that point is probably simply a testament to the state of our economy, more than anything else.
Still, with Apple’s recent streak of impeccably designed gadgets, including the iPad 2, iPhone 4 and now the Macbook Air, it’s hard to expect anything less than droves of consumer interest in their products.
That’s why we should also be skeptical of Apple’s intentions. As one of the most successful companies in the world, they are well positioned to help determine and drive the future of technology, which can be a good or a bad thing.
In the case of the optical drive, it may be a bad thing. With Apple having recently neglected (or intentionally forgetten, rather) to include an optical drive in their latest iteration of the Mac Mini, it seems that their intentions as a company have grown more and more contrived.
With the iTunes Music Store and Apple’s relatively recent release of the Mac App Store, Apple has slowly acclimated their customers to the idea of life without DVDs. At first, when the Macbook Air was released, it was a shocker for many users. But now, with the Mac App Store providing a more than appropriate alternative to purchasing applications in DVD format, Apple has found a way to make a life without optical drives an inviting place.
And therein lies the problem. With Apple’s elimination of the optical drive, Apple has gotten their customers used to paying them a 30% cut for those applications and movies. Whereas before, users could purchase their applications or TV Shows from wherever they wanted, and their laptop would play it without a hitch now — although currently only applicable to the Macbook Air and Mac Mini — they need to either download it from an app store or buy an add-on optical drive. For the most part, consumers with either of those machines will probably stick to downloading digitally.
And sure, in this increasingly digital era, optical drive’s are an outdated medium. An antiquated standard that is slowly in the midst of being phased out on all forms of computers and electronics. But with Blu Ray and certainly other optical disks in the future being able to carry such a huge amount of data in such a small surface, optical disks aren’t even close to dead.
Apple is, quite selfishly, attempting to bring about the death of a medium that’s not yet ready to die. Apple is doing so because it feels that by removing the optical drive in their products, they will be able to increase consumer usage of their Mac App Store and iTunes, thus increasing revenue that they gain from sales of apps and other digital items within those respective stores.
I love Apple, I really do. As long as they continue to churn out great products that I enjoy using, it’s hard to see that changing. But I don’t love when companies tell me how I should be enjoying my content. Apple, by pigeonholing users into the digital download market (and their entire Apple ecosystem as a whole), is beginning to force my hand in a way that definitely turns me off of them as a brand. I have chosen against purchasing products from companies for much, much less.
Still, Apple is a company that is always seeking ways to innovate and simplify the way their consumers interact with the technology around them. That’s what really seems to motivate them. Is there an ulterior motive in their seeming hostility towards the optical drive? Absolutely. But it’s probably not as malicious as I’ve painted it to be. Simply put, they are just jumping on a new opportunity that they feel will reward them handsomely in the near future. Which, judging by their recent success, most likely will.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY web design firm specializing in SEO, social media, web and graphic design and much more.