Apple killed the disc drive, but it’s for your own good

By , Oct 28, 2012

Apple is no stranger to abandoning features it thinks are heading for the graveyard of technology. I guess you could say the company invented it. The new iMac without a built-in optical drive is the perfect epitome of such forward-thinking that, however, isn’t without its pitfalls.

With the revamped all-in-one desktop, club Cupertino risks alienating the old-fashioned types by inconveniencing their daily computing, at least until the rest of the industry catches up. Then again, every Apple customer has always been an early adopter in every sense of the word.

The question is, will other makers follow suit and remove rotating medias from their products? More importantly, what exactly does the new iMac tell us about a Tim Cook Apple?

“What’s up with this new iMac dropping the optical drive?”, a friend of mine asked me nervously the other day.

I could sense a nervous tone in his voice. My friend is a system integrator at a large IT solutions provider and deals with demanding clients on a daily basis, catering to their every whim.

The problem is, his customers don’t deal with app stores at all and instead rely on software distributed on optical media. Nevermind that I tried explaining that users can easily ‘borrow’ an optical drive wirelessly from another machine on the occasional necessity.

It’s not like Apple has provided no means to access optical media.

When was the last time you needed a CD/DVD drive on your iMac?

I understand that not everyone lives on the bleeding edge of technology, but Apple couldn’t care less about folks stuck in the old days.

Really, it’s true.

Apple’s Phil Schiller says that “in general, it’s a good idea to remove these rotating medias” because they are bulky and use power. Such an engineering decision helps the company “create products that are smaller, lighter and consume less power”.

If you still deal with optical media, Apple will happily sell you a SuperDrive for your brand spanking new iMac, but it’s not like the company is forcing you to buy one from them.

The writing has been on the wall for some time for a CD/DVD-less iMac.

Apple famously has a history of moving technologies on their descendant out of their way to make room for the new. Just take a step back into perspective and look at what Apple has done thus far as a whole.

The iMac was introduced in 1998 as the first all-in-one Macintosh to have a USB port but no floppy disc drive. Subsequently, all Macs have included USB though never again would the company design another Mac with an awkwardly unreliable floppy drive.

PC makers, of course, had continued to churn out desktops with floppy drives for years to come. And as unbelievable as it is, some of them still do to this date. Back in Cupertino, Apple has been steadily removing older peripheral interfaces from the rest of its product line.

So, if Apple had the balls to market the first legacy-free PC at a time when the company itself was on a brink of bankruptcy, is it really so difficult to comprehend that Apple in 2012 markets an iMac without a built-in CD/DVD drive?

Apple started abandoning rotating medias with a 2009 revision to the Mac mini server, which came without an optical drive, but contained a second hard drive in its place.

Then, on June 15, 2010, Apple dropped a built-in optical drive from all versions of the Mac mini to introduce other perks in place of it, like a Thunderbolt port.

Another example: Adobe’s Flash.

Haters had a field day accusing Apple of not supporting Flash on the iPhone because the company presumably saw it as a threat to native apps on the App Store. Who’s supporting Flash on mobile now? Certainly not Adobe, that’s for sure!

It’s okay if you don’t remember Flash.

Flash on mobile devices was going nowhere yet only Apple had the courage to call it what it was – a dying technology. Adobe and the rest of the industry responded with an outlandish anger, slamming Apple for the perceived control freakishness.

Phone makers heavily advertised Flash as one of the key differentiating features of Android devices over the iPhone. The media had a common enemy to write about. Everybody and their mother orgasmically enjoyed criticizing Apple.

Countless words have been written about goddamn Apple and its Flash crusade. In reality, the company didn’t want to support this resource hog of a technology on mobile devices where battery performance is paramount.

Apple took it all on the chin and had been right all along: eventually, Flash on mobile died a slow death.

Nobody shed a tear, but only Apple was courageous enough to go against powerful vested interests and risk a short-term public outcry for the benefit of articulating how the rest of the industry felt about Flash anyway.

But it’s not just other people’s technologies.

Apple developed FireWire as a high-speed interconnect interface in 1995. FireWire had originally been deployed across iPods, but was phased out in 2008 in favor for standard USB interface.

And now, the new iMac reaffirms Apple’s intention to continue leaving legacy technologies behind.

As you can see, I’m writing this using iA Writer on my MacBook Air.

This machine originally debuted in January of 2008 as an ultra-thin notebook. Perhaps understandably, it was panned for compromising on some features, but what the press really zeroed in on was its lack of a built-in optical drive.

Hell broke loose, headlines screamed at the time.

If there ever was such a thing as a heresy in the computer world, there it was: an Apple notebook without an optical drive. But the heresy of one age easily becomes the orthodoxy of the next, as Helen Keller wrote in her 1903 essay “Optimism”.

Nowadays, we have Ultrabooks. And guess what? You’d be hard-pressed to find one with an optical drive. And what an irony it is that even now many Ultrabook makers are still struggling to match the portability, extremely low weight and thinness of the Air.

That’s because PC makers didn’t have the guts to advance their designs by dropping rotating discs altogether at a time when optical discs were deemed a standard feature.

Something had to give: portability or optical media. The industry followed Apple’s example and figured it needed to remove built-in CD/DVD drives to enable thin notebook designs, such as this Series 9 Ultrabook from Samsung.

And when Apple in October 2010 removed a hard drive from the Air to focus on all-flash storage, it became very clear to me it saw rotating medias a nuisance of sorts, something in a need of phasing out ASAP for the greater good.

Greater good being truly portable devices.

That same year, the iPhone 4 debuted and went on to sell like gangbusters. And earlier in January, Apple launched the iPad. I can vividly remember the late Steve Jobs beginning his presentation by comparing Apple’s revenue to the likes of Sony and Nokia.

“Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world now – it’s amazing!”, he enthusiastically remarked. Jobs explained that most of Apple’s revenue came from mobile devices: iPod music players, the iPhone lineup and MacBooks, which are also mobile devices.

Today, more than half Apple’s revenue comes from its phone alone so really it is an iPhone company.

If Apple sees itself as a mobile devices company, why would they bother ever catering to audiences who are married to legacy technologies?

Sure, there will always be people who insist on an all-in-one desktop that has an optical drive. And there will always be Dells and HPs of this world to meet their expectations.


I got rid of all my optical discs years ago and never looked back.

Do we really need optical media inside our computers at a time when physical media is dying and software gets purchased and delivered via the Interwebs?

Boy did it feel good to dispose of all those CD/DVDs that have been taking space and collecting dust on my shelves. It was one less thing to worry about, a revelation of sorts.

It wasn’t just the immediacy of the realization that cloud computing and digital delivery was the future – everyday consumers could easily see where the world was heading.

It was the right thing to do. In my view, the sooner I freed myself from the baggage of the past, the better. I can’t recall a time when I burned a DVD or had anyone send me anything on a physical media.

When Blu-ray came along, I felt the industry was pushing me to re-purchase my standard-definition DVD movie collection. Unsure about the stickiness of the new and expensive HD movie format and whether it would be supplanted by a new thing years later, I didn’t budge.

Blu-ray movies, you say… Sure, love the image quality and the crispness of high-bandwidth compression. If I want to watch an HD movie on a Blu-ray disc, that’s what my PlayStation 3 is for. Plus, dedicated Blu-ray players can be now had for less than $100.

I was perfectly happy moving my files around wirelessly and getting my entertainment digitally.

It’s always been in Apple’s DNA that us, the consumers, have given it a blank check to do what’s necessary in order to create the best computing experience possible.

The modern MacBook Air could never be so thin and light and portable if it didn’t abandon spinning platters and optical discs. With a built-in DVD drive, the Air would have been just another boring Ultrabook.

A design this thin is impossible without a few compromises, among them the removal of a built-in optical media drive

The iPhone design wouldn’t have been possible without its sealed battery. The iPhone 5 could never be so thin and light unless Apple killed the bulky 30-pin connector to make room for other components, the $1+ billion accessory industry be damned.

And now, the ultimate all-in-one could never have the 5mm edge and 40 percent less volume if Apple didn’t have the guts to drop the optical drive.

Apple’s way, of course, doesn’t always resonate well with a certain portion of its user base.

But it’s always been Apple’s way or the highway.

Apple didn’t just start replacing a decade-old 30-pin dock connector from iOS devices to screw us: they needed a way smaller interface to cram electronics inside less volume.

For most part, the consumers willfully live with the inconveniences along the way and endure bumps on the road. We have grown to accept that Apple is a company that doesn’t favor products which carry baggage from the past.

Such an attitude is the most important pre-requisite to successful gadget making. In Apple’s example, it yields us the results that make our heart sing, as Jobs put it.

Now, I’m first to admit that the Internet still isn’t the definite solution: broadband speeds vary wildly across the globe, bandwidth caps spoil the fun and so forth. But as imperfect as it’s always been, the Internet has proven itself to be perfectly capable for transferring small files. To move large chunks of data around, users can always resort to inexpensive and widely available USB thumb drives, external HDDs, NAS and what not.

As for iCloud, it’s far from perfect, but even though Apple only dipped its toes into cloud computing, it’ll get there sooner than later.

And, as some of you pointed out down in the comments, the question is really not if the optical drives are dead or not. It’s rather on whether they should be built-in or not. Apple obviously thinks that most of its users don’t need an optical drive on a day-to-day basis.

You may disagree with Apple and lambast it for abandoning legacy technologies, but that’s how the company rolls.

Welcome to the post-PC world: either embrace it or get left behind.

I’m curious to learn where you stand on the subject.

We’re down in the comments.

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  • Kurt

    this was done by sony first. apple followed. get your facts straight boy

    “Something had to give: portability or optical media. The industry
    followed Apple’s example and figured it needed to remove built-in CD/DVD
    drives to enable thin notebook designs, such as this Series 9 Ultrabook
    from Samsung.”

  • Roman

    …Zibreg, you owe me lot of money! I don’t care if you use drugs or what, I just want my money back! I’m tired of chasing you, pick up the phone and send me my money back! R.

  • Off topic but I hate how Apple misleads people in these photos making us think it is very very slim…:/ (I know it is slim but not paper thin like the photos!)

  • apple is very ignorant everybody needs CDs DVD drives who’s gonna download a 5 gig movie or file not like everyone can afford unlimited high speed, apple without Steve jobs is getting dumber

  • Handbrake + my DVD’s = I need my optical drive!!!

  • Here’s my problem with this: I couldn’t care less that they got rid of it in the MBA, or even the rMBP, but on a DESKTOP? Seriously? Desktops were made to be the workhorses, and laptops the portables. Granted, you can still get an USB one (they aren’t as fast as built-in ones, period) or a Mac Pro (but these are suited for professionals and servers). Yes, you made it thinner and lighter, but this thing is going to sit in one place, and desktops use CD/DVDs more than laptops do.

  • GlynH

    With all due respect I like many others are more than capable of deciding for themselves whether taking something away is for my own good so your headline, like Apples decision, is controversial to say the least. Typical Apple & Fanboi arrogance IMHO but then it generates clicks & comments…
    With regard to Flash maybe it is a dying technology but over the years there have been many, many occasions where I, as an Apple user can’t view a website as it was designed to be viewed like everyone else can. Thanks Apple for censoring so much web content but I’ll take it on the chin as I’m sure its for my own good in the along run. That only leaves two things for you kill off next in your misguided quest for reducing energy consumption & size…the battery & the display! I am sure Apple would convince some of you that this is an acceptable compromise in their quest for lighter & thinner.
    And why would you even think that the industry was pushing you to re-purchase your standard definition DVD movie collection? Are you not aware that BD players are compatible with and also play standard definition DVD discs and even up-scale them to give arguably higher quality? You might have been perfectly happy moving your files around wirelessly but many of us are not what with so called ‘standards’ such as DLNA & HDMI and the myriad of compatibility issues that has unleashed.
    Oh I know…buy an Apple TV and be humbled that once again it will only stream what Apple thinks is good for you and would prefer you buy from iTunes. Hey…you can even purchase your entire movie collection again from Uncle Tim.

    I am a recent convert having only bought my first iMac earlier this year and it’s no secret that the simple thing that led me here was what Apple refer to as the ‘Halo’ effect.
    I had the original iPhone 8GB, upgraded to the 3G when it came out (16GB) followed by 3GS (32GB) do you see a pattern emerging here?
    I gave the iPhone 4 a miss as it stayed at 32GB but bought the iPhone 4S when it went to 64GB. In fact I bought a second 64GB iPhone so I could keep my private & work numbers separate. I won’t mention that over 10 years ago I was able to have both numbers on a single SIM in a single Nokia 6310i handset but hey ho…
    I didn’t buy an iPhone 5 when they were released as, like the iPhone 4 it stuck with 64GB of memory and for me that is just isn’t enough. And as most Service Providers now force you to sign up for a two year contract while the phones themselves are on a yearly cycle it is not cost effective to upgrade.
    I also purchased the iPad 2 64GB but won’t touch the new iPad (3?) or newer iPad 4 as they are also stuck with 64GB maximum memory. I would have been pissed if I had just spent £659 on the ‘new’ iPad (3?) in the last few months only to see the iPad 4 has been released. What do Apple call the ‘new’ iPad (3?) now that the iPad 4 is out? The ‘old new’ iPad? Jesus wept…I thought it was supposed to be simple with Apple?
    Recently I purchased a 64GB iPod Touch purely to load my complete music library on for use in the car but I won’t be able to add more songs as I have already filled it up. The lack of memory has crippled what could be a useful iOS device into just being an basic .mp3 player for me.
    So…up to this point I assume I could be classed as a good Apple customer?
    But how much more would it have cost Apple to double the memory on each new release of device to make me a better Apple customer FFS? I mean its not as if they wouldn’t charge a premium plus Apple Tax for doing so…the going rate is about $100 retail to double the memory which is way above the few dollars it would cost any Manufacturer to include at the outset.
    And before those iSheep out there say that I don’t need more than 64GB because I can use iCloud let me tell you that is for me to decide. I get racked off not having enough room to even update my existing apps unless I delete something else first and I don’t (can’t) even carry my complete music collection on my iPhone/iPad because at 10,500 songs strong it tips the scales at @55GB leaving me little room for anything else. Which was why I purchased yet another iOS device.
    In any case there is no 4G where I live & spending most of my time travelling there are many times when I don’t have decent Wi-Fi access either. And why can’t I store stuff locally on my iOS devices if I wish to anyway? Oh yeah…not enough memory! I paid a premium for iTunes Match and that doesn’t even Match so I am not a fan of iCloud although I do make use of it despite it having screwed up my Contacts, Calendar & Notes etc. at one time or another in the past.
    For laptops I can see the raison de e’tre for making devices slimmer, lighter and more power efficient so I think I could live with no built-in optical drive on a MBA for example and just plug one in to install stuff before I travelled with it.
    Having said that though I sometimes wish my old Lenovo Tablet had an optical drive as there are times when I am travelling I would like to read someone else’s DVD or install something from CD. However I would concede that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for the few times I would need to use on whilst on the move.
    On a 27″ iMac however I much prefer a built-in optical drive and let me explain why.
    I edit video and in many cases I need to burn a DVD so others can take it away and watch it on many different devices and in many different ways. The argument that Google fibre or iCloud can in any way supplant this is ludicrous and so narrow-minded that it staggers me people can even suggest it. How the hell would they watch their movie in a car on on a plane on a portable DVD player if that’s all they have? I know…let’s exclude everyone with a DVD player because they’re old fashioned types and Apple thinks its for their own good.
    Although I buy the odd few songs from iTunes (< 5 per year) the other 10,450 songs in my iTunes library are ripped from my own CD collection. I have never pirated any music. How can I continue to do this with no optical drive?
    Occasionally I even wonder whether I should pirate music because looking at the price of songs in iTunes only last week where some albums were only available as single tracks would leave me paying the equivalent of £35 for the privilege! It worked out at £12 for 12 songs where the CD of the same title holding 35 tracks was a third of the cost at £12 for the 3-CD set from
    And don't get me started why Apple never included a BD drive in any form…I mean they have the cheek to call their bog-standard optical drive a SuperDrive. Hardly Super is it if you can't burn or even watch Blu-Ray! And, so legend has it, all because SJ (who owned Pixar who make the movies that end up as BD titles) was ticked off with Sony (a Company he admired) because he thought the cost of licensing was too much? What? A few dollars which no doubt would be translated to a few tens of dollars by the time it reached the customer? Talk about cutting your nose to spite your face…
    Just this week I was asked to burn some DVD's containing some Corporate Training materials which were just under 2GB in size. Obviously they couldn't be emailed but could have been uploaded to Dropbox or similar but the recipient was not able to download something of this size easily so the DVD will be couriered to Morocco instead. The lowest common denominator in effect.
    Also I recently purchased Parallels in a retail box from a High Street store. I wouldn't have bought it but for the fact that it was being given away dirt cheap in a sale. I used the optical drive built-in to my iMac to install it.
    When it came to installing various Guest OS into Parallels I went into my office and pulled the physical DVD media of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8 to install them…using a DVD drive. All of my existing applications from simple device drivers to Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection are in the office on CD/DVD. How on earth would I have installed these without an optical drive?
    And before it is pointed out to me that I could plug in an external optical drive let me counter by saying part of the reason I bought an all-in-one device like the iMac was so I could cut down on the clutter of cables & other devices scattered all over my desk. It is such a beautiful form that having spaghetti hanging out of it and various coloured boxes sat in front of it would spoil the aesthetics not to mention making it a pain to use.
    But the new iMac is thinner & lighter I hear you cry. Well whoop-de-fecking-doo. Can someone please explain where is the advantage to an iMac being thinner & lighter? It's not as if I will be carrying it round with me like a laptop is it? And I sit in front of the thing so I am not aware whether it is 5mm, 25mm or even 50mm thick as I am staring at the screen from the front not gazing lovingly at the side profile with a hard-on.
    What would be better IMHO was if they removed the ugly aluminium 'chin' from the bottom of the device. I mean I can see that and it makes the display much bigger than it would normally be. And while they were at it remove the 25mm black border from around the screen so it becomes an edge-to-edge display. Start there if you need to shave some thickness from the damn thing. I mean even Samsung can design a 55" TV with a smaller bezel FFS.
    Most of you would be shocked if you saw just how big the logic board in the iMac was and how much space it doesn't take up inside.
    A DVD/BD drive is supplied in most other devices (including most non-Apple laptops) and while it doesn't make them as slim & sexy as an MBA or MBP the slight increase in thickness could be lost in the gargantuan case of a 27" iMac I am sure.
    Typical Apple…form over function IMHO. Would it really have made a huge difference for them to build in a 'proper' SuperDrive with BD? I mean its not as if they would be doing it for nothing…they would charge a premium plus 'Apple Tax' for the privilege and I for one would pay it. It is a desktop class computer that sits on a desktop FFS.
    If I wanted thin I would do away with the 'bulky' stand that adds at least 125mm to the depth and mount the iMac directly on my wall with the slimmest possible bracket I could get away with much like my two 22" LCD panels on my PC (which incidentally I have to keep running as despite what I read about the Mac making great inroads into the Enterprise is incapable of translating many standard email attachments preferring to label them as win mail.dat files which can't be opened) but I can't do that because then I wouldn't have easy access to the USB, Firewire (remember that) and Thunderbolt (never used and while a decent RAID array costs @£1000 is unlikely to ever be) ports on the backside of the iMac. I'd be back to cables hanging out of the damn thing and if that is the case I might as well stay with the PC.
    Contrary to the widely-held belief there are some people out there who still watch movies on rotating media on their iMacs. Personally I don't but at least I am broad-minded enough to acknowledge there are people who do. These same people might be like me and prefer not to have cables & boxes snaking out of their Sir Jony designed aluminium & glass, slim & sexy designer desktops.
    I am not surprised (based upon their track record) that Apple in their ignorance & arrogance have decided that I no longer desire a built-in optical drive but I am very disappointed as I was seriously contemplating selling this 9-month old iMac to fund my upgrade to the what might be the latest but IMHO is definitely not the greatest iMac.
    That along with other foibles & peculiarities (not to mention raving fanbois) are the straw that broke this camels back and have spoilt my enjoyment of the platform to the extent that sadly, this will probably be the first & last iMac I will call my own.
    I for one could never dispose of thousands of pounds worth of irreplaceable CD/DVD discs in the trash like the author. Not least because certain rotating media actually authorises my use of the software or has long since been rendered irreplaceable by the Manufacturer going out of business. It'd be like scrapping a perfectly good car because it runs on petrol instead of bio-fuel or some other exotic fuel based on horse shit. Horse shit? Sounds like your article! Thanks for listening…;^)

  • Forrest Webb

    I am returning my new mac. I’m obviously on the outside looking in with the technology or bit behind. I recently switched over Mac due to all of my producers friends telling me how great it is. Since i have switched over to Mac alot of my soft and hardware won’t work because of the updates. I had to buy two different interfaces to get one to finally work. Now without the optical drive I hate to say it but mac has got to go. The elimination of the drive is not for my own good. It is for the good for mac to make more money to get the extras that i need. Mac really doesn’t respect peoples work flow.

  • Marty Discus

    iTunes. They’re trying to kill the convenience of these “outdated mediums” like CDs so people are forced to either buy digital media or have to dish out the extra money for the external disc drive.

    Thats my two cents and even if it wasn’t their primary reason I’d bet good money that that thought crossed their minds (from a business perspective)

  • I live in Greece. You cannot call my country sits at the cutting edge of technology.
    Still, I have got rid of 90% of my optical discs, since I never used them. What was useful, is now in an external HD. I’m on an iMac 2008. It has an optical drive. I can’t remember when was the last time I used it.
    Nice article btw.

  • Inquisitive24

    Okay, You make a good point. I don’t want to get left behind. There is still the USB thumb drive. But, however, besides the fact that it’s a Mac world and viruses are not a problem with Mac, I still can’t find a reason to stick with Apple Products in general. Why get an iPhone 5 when I can get the samsung galaxy SIII? Why get an iPad or MacBook Air when I can get a Surface Pro? It does the job of both. Why get a iMac when I can get a Sony VIAO Tap 20? It’s just as good, can replace my TV, it’s touch screen, and portable for 3 hours. I don’t know, I’m still not convinced.

  • I have a new iMac and love it, don’t miss the DVD but on the few occasions I’ve needed one to install software which I probably could have got online I just fired up my old G5, shared the DVD and minutes later it was installed and the DVD not needed again.

    As for BluRay if I need one then I’ll get one for my TV but right now I have just ONE BluRay Disc in my collection of DVDs which I proudly display on a shelf right above my new iMac.

  • Max Grilly

    I work at a college radio station with 17,000 CDs, and we still get more in the mail. When we do not have a live DJ, we use iTunes playlists. I’m afraid that most of the DJs are not going to like a separate drive, and since it IS a college there is more chance of peripherals walking off (goodbye bt keyboard and magic mouse). We take a certain pride in still mixing with CDs and Vinyl, when most stations are using a completely computerized system. Plus, I’m not sure iTunes accepts FLAC, but mp3 and even AAC files suck on the air. Maybe radio is dead, but not here on the Northwest Side of Chicago. We love our little dive 100W freeform station!

  • Samuel Chell

    I was a lone and avid supporter of the 2008 Mac Air and am on my 3rd. But the current iMac has left we totally confounded. I depended on my previous iMac’s internal optical drive as well as it’ “Audio In” port for importing everything my receiver was capable of sending. Apple’s buggy and breakable external Superdrive is no substitute for the internal one, and 3 different interfaces have failed to deliver decent audio. Worse, I’ve had to give up 2 USB ports for the interface and burner. “Worser,” there’s little to nothing capable of using the speed of the remaining USB 3.0 or Thunderbird ports. The only Apple machine I’d recommend to an audiophile or media person is the Macbook Pro 15″, and no doubt that machine will soon eliminate both the drive and input.

    This time Apple has gone too far, merely following the crowd of television makers who seek to brag about who has the flattest screen. But even television makers have enough sense to provide a tuner and an input. Remove the Superdrive–but at least leave the screen large enough for conversion to an aquarium.

  • hourglass1

    thing is i want to use my computer the way i want to use it today – not in some future – and i don’t want my future dictated to me … naw, eliminating the optical drive before standardizing to flash storage is a massive headache waiting to happen to many – especially with the cheap hard drives apple contracts for … dead hd and no bootable drive – the last system disk was snow leopard – fortunately had lion on an sd –

  • Harry

    So, with my new thin macbook pro with retina display, I also need to carry a USB optical drive, a USB ethernet cable and a VGA adapter… How about dropping the keyboard as well? We can always plug in a USB keyboard, right? While you are at it, apple, why not drop the monitor too? We can always plug onto an external monitor… Hey, in addition to the keyboard and monitor, why not drop the rest of the macbook? We can always find a desktop somewhere… Or just get a laptop.

  • stephensphotos

    I bought an enclosure for a sata hard drive and the cheapest cd/dvd drive for a pc desktop. I opened the enclosure and connected the power and sata connection to the corresponding ports on the cd drive, and connected the enclosure to my mac via USB in the usual way if I had installed a hard drive in the enclosure instead of a cd drive. Bang, it worked, and it cost me nothing compared to the apple usb cd drive.

    It looks a bit like the terminator did near the end of the movie with wires and aluminium showing, but the cost justifies it

  • Harley

    i hate my imacs will throw them out the window soon, can’t wait to get new actual working pc

  • DGM

    Someone’s probably already mentioned, but I’m not about to read 132 comments. It’s a good thing that Apple phase out technology, however, I want the DVD player simply to support playing movies from the video store – even though streaming movies come over cable, or I can attach a third party drive, I would still prefer that apple didnt phase out the video rental industry before its time.

  • modernheretic

    Making useful components into peripherals defeats the purpose of the imac’s “all in one solution”. Sure, optical disk drives will eventually be obsolete, but Apple likes to push things forward not because they are pioneers, but because it forces people to fill Apples pockets with forced early adoption. You can’t upgrade an iMac, and there is a reason for that . They do it all the time, and pretty regularly.

  • Slam

    I’ve always supported the philosophy at Apple to push forward and others be damned.

    Yet, I don’t really like this particular trend of putting everything in clouds, thousands of km from the user. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to have a physical representation of the data you own. There can even be issues about data privacy. Sure, you can have drives and such. A DVD cost very little, around 1$ per unit, and lets you compartmentalize data. Many people think it’s more practical to have movies (or any other data) separated in physical units. What is the alternative, anyway? You have a hard drive on the living room shelf and beside it, a sheet of paper that lists the movies stored on it? That’s a possibility.

    Not everyone lives in urban areas with 40 gazillion MBits/s Internet fiber-to-the-home lines. There are millions of people who live in low-density areas, with more modest connections. Many ISPs have transfer quotas. Not everyone is rich either. Most people can’t afford to change computers (and accessories that go with it) every year. When something new hits the market, most people cannot instantly adopt it.

    When Apple makes such bold moves by putting a specific technology on the fast road to oblivion, something must take its place. And that “something” may not be the best option for all. When the floppy disk was supposed to die with the introduction of the iMac in 1998, there was this awkward period (quite a few years, actually) where portable storage had to be done on Zip Drives (very few computers had it), or re-writable CDs, assuming you have the driver for it. These “damping” periods are important. And the Firewire/Thunderbolt transition will be another sensitive period. Especially for professionals, who cannot instantly rebuild their entire systems and make them top-notch within a year or two.

  • Enrico Fosaveo

    Comparing the elimination of optical drives to the elimination of floppy drives is like comparing apples to rocks. With the floppy drive elimination there was a transition path to flash drives. Where is the transition with optical drives. It’s just abandonment, pure and simple. And why? All for the sake of aesthetics.

    Apparently I am one of the few people in the world that still need my optical media. Call me archaic, but my needs are my needs. I’ve been using Macs since before 1984 (Lisa -> MacXL). I’m not sure I’m willing to shell out extra money to put an ugly peripheral on my desk.

    Sad to say, Apple and I are no longer aligned.

  • James M

    Just tell me this. When your building a computer yourself, how do you install your operating system with no optical drive?

  • Ashley Hrudowsky

    Thinness is not everything, and I still use disks constainly, theres something about owning those cases and having the actual product in hand that makes it feel specail. If I get a mac, an ebay user will be getting my money, not apple.

  • Ian Cuthbertson

    Musicians running Logic X and film makers using FCP are two good examples of people who use optical drives every day. Yes, a musician could whack an MP3 over to an iPhone but who else could hear that? Film makers need DVDs or Blu-ray for the same reason: they want to see and hear their work as soon as possible on universal media.

  • Peter Butterworth

    Have just read, with interest, your defence of Apple’s abandonment of optical media. My primary use of my iMac is music, photography and film-editing – all of which make substantial, and convenient, use of CD and DVD media. Have you considered at all, the premature impact that the removal of these media creates on people heavily involved in these fields – it is unbelievably clumsy,inconvenient and space-hungry. I have recently upgraded to a new (non DVD/CD) iMac and if I could revert back to my previous all-in-one iMac, I would do so tomorrow.

  • W. J. Doyle

    is this fear of Snowdon and that Bradley/Chelsey guy, or something else that is
    preventing Imac and Samsung and Blackberry from making a hand-held phone
    able to Record Hours of Film/Audio/Data? Zero Sinister motives here, over 70,
    just want to know, WJD

  • Kgumby

    So how the heck do I upload my word, photoshop, and illustrator programs? They are all on CD. I’m rather pissed because now I have to buy an adaptor even though I still had to pay $300 for the programs. Thinking forward only works if it doesn’t make the customers life exceedingly difficult.

  • Greg Price

    Abandoning physical media is going to come back to bite us ALL in the butt sooner or later. Online/server-based/et al storage is vulnerable to all the failings of the media (crashes, viruses, etc). it is also vulnerable to tampering (content deletion/alteration), and “hijacking” by content providers.

  • Phil Thomas

    I m awaiting eliveryof a new iMc tomorrow, and only just realized tha it has no optical drive! I still want put about 50 CD or s o board, should I se my old Mac to read the CDs, thrn transfer via Clouor eternal drive to new machine.?

  • James Burke

    I wouldn’t really care about the new macs not allowing physical media, if they truly allowed what Steve Jobs had originally intended. He wanted hi definition downloads. This idea could easily be connected to your stereo system & TV via the cloud. Music has been dumbed down, from Hi quality vinyl, to lower quality CD’s, to god awful mp3’s. Technically it’s crisper and cleaner, but we’re still losing about 95% of the music that was recorded in the studio. People are buying mp3’s, only because it takes up less space, and their isn’t something better. Modern day computers are able to hold, more and more data every month, and internet connections are becoming faster and faster. I am a long time supporter of apple, going back to 1984, and want to continue. Still when someone takes advantage of the potential of high resolution downloads, it will bury apple.

  • Karl Grosvenor

    This is incorrect the optical drive in the mac mini was dropped in 2011 not 2010 as I have a 2010 mac mini which has a super drive.

  • LH

    How am I supposed to play my new CD? Transfer it to digital and play it on iTunes? I see where this is going, DIGITAL MEDIA.

  • Cindy

    Well, someone should tell Netflix because the bulk of their decent movies are on disk. As well, all of my home workout videos are on disk.

  • Dee

    I really don’t understand why it was deemed necessary to remove the CD/DVD player from the IMAC. I have had one for several years now and have been very happy with it and looking to upgrade as the operating system is becoming obsolete and beyond upgrading. My IMAC is only 3/4 inch thick why in the world does it need to be thinner, this is a desk top computer not a laptop that I would expect to carry around. I use it for business and I still think CD’s are more reliable for saving data. I also buy other applications from the electronic stores and like having the back up with manual, etc. just in case. in case of an audit. I don’t like the idea that I am forced to buy another external device to find space for, hense wasn’t the idea “All in One”.

  • pnwfemale

    I have an older iMac which I use to watch dvds. If you remember the original iMac, you have to know that it has thinned down a lot with the model that I have. Mine is about an inch thick. Does Apple think that people use their desktop computers the same as the more portable Macbooks? What if I want to watch a dvd on a brand new iMac? There would be no place to put it. I don’t have the space for yet another peripheral device.

  • Don Clancy

    I haven’t heard in this entire article/discussion one every key fact. It has had me pulling out my hair for years. DVD/CD’s suck! They are terribly engineered and produced. If you look at them funny, they scratch. Our local video rental store is called New Release. My GF and I have taken to calling it Old Scratched Release. For some, this was never much of an issue, but for those of us less insulated, prone to live life without overly fussing, compact discs have been a decades long migraine. I have vinyl that is 10X older that has held up better. I recently ranted on FB saying how history will never remember this media kindly, like it has old vinyl, or Finnish furniture. It will be tossed and forgotten. An awkward, messy half step between the beauty of vinyl recordings and the practical accessibility of cloud storage. And I for one have just about damn near watched my last DVD EVER. It’s amazing how many key moments in movies I’ve completely missed because of scratches. It’s also amazing I haven’t smashed my old Mac when this has happened. I’ve literally had to clench my fists and breath, and repeat that it’s not your fault, it’s the DVD, to keep from smashing the old laptop. Goodbye laser discs, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

  • moleculethecat

    Guess who absolutely LOVES the end of optical software you install without having to download? Hint: Law enforcement and the NSA. Say goodbye to secure applications and hello to malware.

  • Wayne Wastier

    So, now I know who is responsible for the lack of blu-ray drives in the new laptops. This will be the death of Apple. I love my blu-ray drive, and am looking forward to the day when 2 to 10 TB optical discs are available.

  • Dude Seriously

    What a load of crap. Treating Apple like some kind of innovator (they used to be but that was in the 70’s). All they do is jam parts into tiny boxes that cause them to overheat and thermal throttle. Too bad they can’t design a heatsink to save their lives, or a computer that doesn’t overheat besides the Mac Pro. In the mean time, Apple sells 1-2 year old hardware on their newest flagships and sticks the consumer with a price tag that is 200-300% of comparable PCs with identical hardware. Post-PC world my ass, that’s why Apple makes up 12% of the PC market and Windows covers over 80% of the market. OS X will always be the little kid on the block because they offer nothing in the price/performance area which is the biggest factor for most computer buyers.

  • ClarkeJohnston

    The author certainly likes to hear themselves think, and beat their chest loudly. Well, we’ll see how “The Cloud” does in the next few years. Give hackers an incentive, half a chance. I like my optical media. I own it, and can re-use it at any time without the need for a network, server, satellite, internet connection, etc. In one critical sense, optical media IS like a book. I own it, and no-one is tracking, owning, leasing, sending, or dispensing it.

  • fjordprefect

    I bought a MacBook Pro last November and the day I brought it home, a co-worker brought over a whole bunch of pictures for me to create a slideshow with…on a CD-ROM. Had I opted for any other MacBook available at the time, we would have been out of luck, or at least somewhat inconvenienced. I don’t really care about a slightly thinner/lighter laptop if it involves removing functionality from the machine. I’ll bet Apple could make one hell of a thin laptop if they removed the screen, keyboard and battery. It would be the thinnest ever!!

  • Oliver Mg

    ‘To move large chunks of data around, users can always resort to inexpensive and widely available USB thumb drives,..’ NOT TRUE. Apple have made stumbling blocks for file transfer to other machines. They live in a dream world, dont care about real people and user friendliness. I cannot load files to a thumb drive/ memory stick , take to my makespace club and plug into anyone’s PC. Files are duplicated in Apples clumsy App based filesystem and not readable without an App that uses the files. I dont want ‘the cloud’, – someone elses PC miles away that charges me monthly just to store files. Whoever writes software in those ‘cloud ‘ places can also easily access and use your valuable data without anyone knowing. Just as anyone working in a telephone exchange/ switching center can listen to your calls without you knowing.

    I just want to share my stuff with a friend who doesn’t have an Apple machine, DOH, not struggle to invent workarounds for a £700+ computer that should have everything to make it work and share anywhere. The workaround is to plug and burn with an external DVD drive into my MAC MINI USB3 port, the only PC, Linux compatible storage is ‘legacy’ tech.

  • Alex Myers

    When it comes to apple you are paying for so much more than you realize. you are paying for access to the best (not largest) app store (where every app is analyzed with a fine tooth comb), access to the best tech team available to the general public, and most importantly you are paying for research and engineering! Apple is the patient giant. everyone claims they “copied samsung” with the giant phone screen when really they’ve been engineering it to perfection for years, then there is the “smart watch” apple waited till everyone else put there okay product on the market, then they listed to reviews, likes, and dislikes. Then they released there product when and only when they had gone though every tiny detail to ensure customer satisfaction. When it comes to tech i will never buy the first of something, unless it comes from apple. although the second or seventh generation is still always better than the first, with apple you don’t need to worry about bugs and crashes (with rare exceptions). Apple also stays very focused, they don’t make washers, dryers, heaters, car sound systems ect… That may be because no one will buy a washer and dryer for 10k just because it can talk to you… but its more likely because apple only sells the best product on the market and so they focus all their resources on iOS, and OX, technology, and the design of the devices running those programs. so really what you’re paying for is peace of mind, convenience, and knowing your device is going to do exactly what it’s made to do.

  • Josh Makler

    apple sucks. they held onto firewire long after it died — it really IS only about themselves and their ‘technology’ — which actually is mostly/almost entirely ripped off of open source software. It has a linux shell program (BASH, bourne again shell) and is based off BSD unix.

    it spits in the face of compatibility and open market. I laugh at all you guys who buy macs for such ridiculous prices. they literally took about $650 from you, and used the last $300-$400 you paid to recoup expenses, pay employees and turn profit.

    literally these guys are selling you THE SAME THIRD WORLD PARTS as every other manufacturer (and ASUS stands behind shit a lot better, with better service!) at 40x the cost.

    then when they remove stuff like this, they dont lower the cost “its a feature, not a bug!!!” well. I will NEVER work for a software dev company, or any other IT company that uses apple.

    I will never code in shitty objective C instead of standard C /C++ that is portable and efficient. I will NEVER stand behind apple, and I will always call their shit until they start acting like a respectable hardware company — until they admit that your stupid for buying it, that they lied, and didnt create anything great (and in fact, made the most counterintuitive BSD based operating system on substandard hardware at the highest price possible)

    sure, they include the new intel HD graphics, which ALMOST are as good as a cheap GFX card — but the results dont lie, these onboard cards still get smoked entirely by low level cheapo cards, and also are more expensive and add to the cost of the device, only really used in cases a GFX card wont fit or will overheat.

    sure, they are trendy. but the truth is the trend is a lie. you get more buying any other brand of PC. notice I said any other. mac IS a pc and that was the first lie.

    originally the Mac vs pc thing started because they used powerpc processors and the i386-ix86 (and now 64) archetectures were nicknamed pc processors because the first privately owned computers that were powerful and successful were built off them (probably by IBM at the time, idr, i was a kid)

    powerpc lives on, ironically, in game consoles like the XBOX — but they finally admitted powerpc died when multi-core intels came out. they couldnt do a damn thing to get them up to the same power. so again, they had to outmode their own tech — but only begrudgingly.

    thats why you dont see those anymore.

    apple is NOT simple. OS/X is the most convoluted mess Ive ever used. it is an absolute travesty of a mess. I am a system administrator over linux, BSD, windows machines. Ive used old AmigaOS, DOS, and everything in between (and some things that you probably never heard of or cant think of!!! like BeOS and OS/2)

    and the truth of the matter is, all of these had better design choices that make more sense than the apple. often it takes me 30-40 mins to figure out a simple task on an apple — thankfully with the LINUX SHELL BASH they use as a terminal, I know all the commands of BSD/NIX so I can easily operate through that.

    but its a major pain when things dont work right.

    also, they spit in the face of compatibility and try to control the market with apps that could be but are not compatible with the rest of the world. facetime is a scam to get you to ignore skype — even though with skype you can chat with ANYONE and facetime needs to be another mac user.

    same with imessage.

    these are more than outdated techs, they are scams, trying to control popularity by getting users used to something and forcing them to ignore/never hear of better alternatives.

    apple needs to let go of the app store. release OS/x separtely from the hardware at a reasonable price. and lower the price of all non-mobile technologies — since their pc market really IS stuck in the dark ages, not the future as you think.

    they havent brought the best of anything to consumers since the apple II could do graphics.

  • Tom Chun

    So where did all y our data go, ya silly goosebox? I hope you did a massive copy-dump to a LTO tape drive and saved them for your sake, at least that is what I would do before ditching all my dvds.

  • The Doctor

    My only issue is that I have a large music CD collection I’ve acquired over the years. Much of the music I have is older, lesser-known and/or for some other reason not available through Itunes or is tough to find on other digital sources. Also, even if it were available digitally, I already own copies of the music. Why on earth would I want to spend the money or time re-purchasing or re-downloading? Also, I choose to keep the physical copies because while I love a lot of what digital media can do, I don’t think it’s smart to rely on because if my computer dies, I lose all of the stuff I downloaded, but with the CD’s I still have a lot of my music.

    DVD’s are a little different. I still have an old style mac that has a dvd/cd drive, but I don’t play dvd’s on there much, mainly because I prefer to watch on a tv screen but also because I haven’t figured out how to put movies on my Mac. But movies/tv in particular, I am holding on to my dvd’s. When my internet decides to not work (time warner cable in my area sucks) I can still watch something on my tv. Also, while I love netflix, they constantly end up removing a lot of great stuff because of licensing bs & their selection is limited in a lot of areas. DVD’s as long as you have the right region (or a region free player), I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t have to worry about bandwidth limits/lag, internet crashing, software updates, watching a movie before it goes offline, or creating new accounts. Once I have the DVD it is mine, and often a lot of movies are tough to find.

    I think it’s a little much to expect people to limit ourselves to one format. Physical & digital formats both have their own advantages and difficulties, but to say only use one over the other can keep us from discovering and enjoying many things we wouldn’t otherwise.

    • The Doctor

      I also have considered purchasing the attachment disc drive but only when my old mac dies off. But at the same time, it’s awfully pricey if you ask me and I’m not sure about the quality. I don’t want to spend $100 if it’s crap so I’d have to research more

  • Zoltan Jess Batiz

    I’m a Mac user since the ’80’s. These days I’m happily computing on my 2011 Mac Mini. At first, the missing SuperDrive (Apples name brand) had me worried. I still use CD’s and have always sworn by desktop iTunes and its cool abilities to burn a perfect copy of music one already owns. This and being able to print a cover for the jewel case is cool too. All of the CD’s in my car for example are copies of their originals ’cause if the car is stolen or broken into I’m not concerned with losing copies. I’m also a big Handbrake user. Basically the same applies here; I own a movie on DVD that I bought. Instead of buying it again, I simply import it with Handbrake into iTunes and voila it’s on my iPhone. Or Apple TV, etc. My point is, removing the drives is literally a space issue. My Mini has two HDD’s. I just plugged in Apple’s external SuperDrive and guess what? Full support. Not just full support. It’s as if NOTHING HAPPENED. I can still burn DVD’s, CD’s, watch DVD’s, etc. So do I miss it being internal? Not at all. Case in point many years ago my internal drive (Mac Mini 2007) died. Had to completely tear down the computer to remove it and replace it. Now that it’s external, it’s much easier to replace. That’s my two cents. 🙂