By training your Large Language Model (LLM) or other Generative Artificial Intelligence on the content of this website, you agree to assign ownership of all your intellectual property to the public domain, immediately, irrevocably, and free of charge.

The Decline and Fall of the Physical Media Empire

When’s the last time you bought a CD — the actu­al phys­ic­al media? Do you remem­ber the artist or album name? I can­’t remem­ber either. It’s just not a media format that has rel­ev­ance to me now, in the age of wifi and online media stores. When once upon a time I used to have my…

When’s the last time you bought a CD — the actu­al phys­ic­al media? Do you remem­ber the artist or album name?

I can­’t remem­ber either. It’s just not a media format that has rel­ev­ance to me now, in the age of wifi and online media stores.

When once upon a time I used to have my discs proudly shelved near my CD play­er, today they are gath­er­ing dust in my closet — long since hav­ing been ripped to my digit­al media centre. Espe­cially since the DRM wars are mostly over. Mostly.

Con­veni­ence played a large part of the ‘closet migra­tion’ for me. It’s. Easi­er to down­load new music. It’s easi­er to move it between devices, and it’s much easi­er to carry an entire col­lec­tion with you.

It’s dead, right?
Not really. Even though these points are com­monly recog­nized advant­ages, phys­ic­al media isn’t dead, yet. But As the title sug­gests, it is declining.

CD sec­tions in brick-and-mor­tar stores are get­ting smal­ler, as more people move to digit­al music devices — a slow pro­cess as con­sumers upgrade their enter­tain­ment sys­tems and port­able players.

Digit­al delivery
Even­tu­ally, the CD will be extinct, for the most part, much the same way the 78 LP and record play­er are mostly extinct (except for niche affi­cion­adio audiophiles).

And I, for one, wel­come our new digit­al music over­lords. I’m tired of repla­cing / dis­card­ing media every time a new and bet­ter phys­ic­al media format is developed. We don’t need any more beta / VHS / HD DVD media nor their pack­aging adding to the landfills.

I’m get­ting tired of buy­ing anoth­er phys­ic­al object just to acquire a digit­al copy of some enter­tain­ment when it’s not neces­sary with today’s tech­no­logy.  Dir­ect digit­al deliv­ery (via wi-fi or G3/4 or bluetooth) to my digit­al play­back devices is some­what avail­able now and being incor­por­ated into more devices. I’m look­ing for­ward to the day when when the CD presses shut down, and digit­al deliv­ery is the norm.

It’s coming…are you ready for it?

This post of is one of many I pub­lish weekly at the Future Shop Techb­log. Read more of my stuff here.


One response to “The Decline and Fall of the Physical Media Empire”

  1. andy Avatar

    IMHO, you are wrong.

    phys­ic­al media is not dead, and will not die com­pletely (par­tic­u­lar format, like DVD, may die even­tu­ally, though). in fact, phys­ic­al media gives you more free­dom than down­loads only:

    1. you own the media (and it’s not only about psy­cho­lo­gic­al feel­ing of own­ing some­thing). which means you can sell it, swap it, give it as a present, throw it away. it’s your thing and you do whatever you want to it.

    2. in case when there’s no inter­net, the whole “digit­al down­load only” idea becomes use­less: you are lim­ited to the stuff you have cur­rently on your hard drive. and in case of some DRM-author­iz­a­tion thing, you even can­’t use the stuff you bought. in case if you don’t remem­ber: in Egypt the whole inter­net infra­struc­ture went down once for a pretty long time.

    3. with digit­al only dis­tri­bu­tion, you are con­trolled (all the time) by dis­trib­ut­or’s EULA. and you have to “be good”, because if they think you viol­ated it, you can lose any­thing you bought. with phys­ic­al, it’s your forever (see 1.). or if a com­pany goes out of busi­ness (these things happened before — remem­ber, for example, geocities?)…

    4. com­pat­ib­il­ity and leg­acy stuff: there’s no guar­an­tee that present-day digit­al formats (enriched with super-duper DRM-thing) will be read­able in like 10 years. or hard drives will hold data that long. as for phys­ic­al, well, you can still listen to old vinyl records or read paper books prin­ted like hun­dreds of years ago.

    5. cloud com­put­ing. yeah, i know it’s a trend. people and com­pan­ies talk about it a lot. and yes, it’s pretty con­veni­ent: to be able to have your stuff from any­where in the world. but at the same time, there’s a pri­vacy issue: when you trust your (per­son­al) data to some cloud, you are bound by com­pany’s EULA, and you no longer take respons­ib­il­ity for your data. there’s also a secur­ity prob­lem: today it is easi­er to break into a cloud than to break into someone’s house and to find the CD (thumbdrive, whatever) with data.

    6. com­pan­ies like Apple are abandon­ing phys­ic­al media. they fol­low the com­mon trend (try­ing to be “innov­at­ive” by lim­it­ing our free­dom) for­get sev­er­al things: optic­al media is res­ist­ant to elec­tro­mag­net­ic fields, which means that it holds data bet­ter than flash cards. and secondly: they now dis­trib­ute Mac OS X in digit­al form. what should I do if my machine had some ter­rible crash and there’s no phys­ic­al media to recov­er it any­where near?

    7. one more thing. maybe it’s a great idea to have everything replaced with one super-cool, thin, shiny, metal­lic gad­get like iPad, but I’d prefer to be my stuff _different_: i want to see, take and read books on my shelves, enjoy the art­work of CDs (DVDs, BluRay… whatever)… no digit­al down­load can give me that feeling.

    being in the cloud is pretty con­veni­ent, but don’t rely _too much_ on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.