[Obviously I don’t have any kids, so play along would you?]
Sometime in the not too distant future…
The strangest thing happened today! My daughter came home from school and started telling us all about her exciting day in the first grade. Then out of nowhere, she asked what a DVD was! I guess her class had been learning about how the screens in their desks work and the teacher made a reference to DVDs. I did my best to explain that in the old days, we needed to have a small, round disc in order to get a movie or something to play. She couldn’t quite wrap her head around the idea – it was kind of like me when I learned about record players. She’s used to having everything appear automatically – the lessons, videos and assignments all appear in her desk, “like magic” she tells me. Having physical media is such a thing of the past, and thank goodness for that too!
I can’t imagine what she’ll think when I explain to her that wireless wasn’t always everywhere and we’d have to disconnect and reconnect to different hotspots!
Back to the present…
It’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of time. The time when we download everything is coming, and it’s coming sooner than you think. Physical media is dying.
As Engadget noted the other day, Blu-Ray stuff is going to start shipping near the end of May. The format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is pretty much useless though. Do we really need a new format? I think the advantages offered are not as great as those offered by DVD when compared to VHS, so people likely won’t upgrade in mass numbers. I think that’s why the Xbox 360 shipped with a good old fashioned DVD drive – people are going to start downloading content more and more.
Think about it for a second. A small percentage of online music sales are online right now, but the number is growing. The big networks like NBC and ABC have started selling downloadable video, a trend that is expected to continue. Millions of people have satellite TV or digital cable services that let them download new content all the time. Broadband connections are extremely popular around the world, and the United States is finally starting to catch up. And when we do finally have wireless everywhere (we’re getting closer) there will be no need for discs. Instead, everything will be accessed online.
Sure things will be difficult at first. What we really want is the concept of download once, play anywhere. That will take some time, but it is definitely achievable, and has already begun with devices like the Windows Media Center PC. Wifi is spreading throughout homes – how long until we see televisions with built in wireless connections so they can access content from devices around the house? These are the kinds of things that will become commonplace.
My brother and sister buy DVD’s all the time, and I have lots of friends who buy CDs, but I haven’t bought any for quite some time now (don’t have time to watch a lot of movies). If I could get entire Xbox 360 games off Xbox Live instead of just demos, I’d probably do that too.
I can already see the headlines – “DVD format disappears almost as quickly as it came!”. Never before has a format been so widely adopted so quickly. Maybe downloading will come almost as quickly? I for one think the download party is going to get much bigger in the next few years.