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Is Apple declaring war on DVDs?

Apple quietly removed the DVD drive from its Mac Mini line last week. Are we moving toward a discless future, or is Apple being too bold in pulling the plug?

Apple is pulling the DVD drive from its Mac mini. Are we moving towards a future of only streaming video?

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In its new product announcement last week, Apple rolled out a lot of new features – including significantly faster processers and greater expandability for its Macbook Air and Mac Mini lineups. But Cupertino also quietly took something out of its lineup (besides the vanilla Macbook, that is): the Mac Mini is now missing its DVD drive.

They say you need at least two data points to draw a trend, and now we have them: the Macbook Air has never had an optical drive, and now that the Mini’s has disappeared as well, it likely indicates that the company is eyeing a future in which media doesn’t come on a DVD – or a CD-ROM or Blu-Ray disc, for that matter.

For a lot of companies – and a lot of users – the move to a discless world makes a lot of sense. It’s easier for both parties to deal in digital downloads – as opposed to the comparatively byzantine process of burning software to physical media, packaging it, and shipping it around. And the exclusion of an optical drive allows computers to be that much smaller, lighter, and less expensive.

This isn’t the first time Apple’s been in this position, either. Back in 1998, the company introduced the original iMac without a floppy drive, pulling the plug on a technology that was still considered standard. (In hindsight, that was probably a good call, though Apple’s move caused quite an outcry at the time.)

For a lot of people, though, it really is too soon to ditch the discs. Let’s assume that Apple will continue to remove optical drives throughout its laptop and desktop lines, as it did with the floppy drive: this is probably an unwelcome scenario to anyone hoping to watch a DVD on an airplane.

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