Cheering The Slow Death of Physical Media

Disc illustration - Article ThumbnailIs it disk or disc? If Apple gets their way, it won’t matter. Optical storage media will be obsolete. Computer files will be stored in the cloud… a magical place where relics of the past do not exist.  Free yourself of worldly goods, material things do not matter in the cloud. It’s like some sort of spiritual enlightenment. Yet, I find myself suspicious. Is this utopian future really better for me? Is the cloud more trustworthy than a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disk… disc… thing?

For a while, I was having trouble with this issue. But then, the developer side of my brain took over. It was like — OH YEAH! Kill those optical drives!

The death of physical media means more money for content creators like me. In the 12+ year history of, this site has never had a better chance of true success. The reason is simple. I don’t have to worry about distributing a physical object — no heavy books, no smudgy newspapers, no expensive magazines, no CD fabrication, nothing! That means I get to keep more of the profit on the content that I create… or do I?

Apple takes a big chunk out of iTunes App Store Sales. 30% is a high number. Is this not some self-serving scam by Apple?

Well, I think Apple earns their money. They’ve created an environment where it’s easier for me to sell my content. They handle e-commerce, they help with marketing and they manage the web technology. Most importantly, Apple has created a system where people are more willing to part with their money. Before focusing on the iTunes App Store, was generating revenue with banner ads and on-demand publishing. The former wasn’t terrible successful and the latter was fairly expensive. It was hard to make money online.

A closer look at also reveals the future of physical media. It seems that CD/DVD creation was killed. I was surprised, but maybe I should have seen it coming. The discs were expensive and digital downloads are cheap.

In general, I didn’t really find the success that I was looking for with on-demand publishing. The prices aren’t competitive. With The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, some of my overseas customers would pay over $40 for a printed copy of the book. Shipping and Printing took a far bigger bite than Apple’s 30%. On-demand printing wasn’t good enough for me. That’s one of the many reasons why my textbook is currently an iTunes App Store exclusive.

Since I’m naturally moving away from physical media, why should I care if Apple removed the optical drive from the Mac Mini? In the short-term, it’s a hassle. But in the long term, it means more profit for me and less clutter in my home. I should encourage Apple driving traffic to the Mac App Store. That means more potential customers for my apps. It’s also good for my customers, as the prices are low. The top iOS games usually sell for 99¢. Even the high-end games usually peek at $10. That’s a big drop from a $60 console game.

Yet, I’m still wary of the cloud. I don’t trust my data floating on some random server. Instead of paying Apple for more storage space, I think that I should set up my own home server or at least get a good external storage device. I wasn’t really using DVDs or CDs to backup data anyway. By carefully watching Apple hardware/software changes, I’m getting prepared for the future.

Nostalgia blinded me. I should have figured this out on my own. One obvious clue — I have more Blu-Ray players (two) than Blu-Ray discs (one). :lol:

Apple’s making the right move here. Physical media is dying. And instead of being sentimental about dusty old books and discs, I now realize that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.