Technology is ever changing. What was ubiquitous one day can be archaic the next. Cassette drives no longer run software. We don't transfer files on a floppy disk, either 5.25" or 3.5". And today, a compelling case can be made that the days of the optical disk drive may be numbered.
The optical drive has for a number of years been a standard feature on desktop and laptop computers. It's how we purchase and install software, and digitize our music collections. And, with a burner, it's how we make backups of our ever expanding photo and media collections, or transfer our home videos to DVD to watch on our television or send to family and friends.
However, Chetan Joshi, an account executive for business development with Lenovo Canada, said he's seeing less and less demand for optical drives from his customers and he believes it's only a matter of time before they go the way of the floppy drive.
"I definitely think it's safe to say its days are numbered as we move toward the cloud, slates and tablet devices," said Joshi. "Our goal for ultramobile is thin and light, and it's inevitable that the death of the CD drive will be part of that mix."
A number of factors are contributing to the trend, said Joshi. Flash media prices are dropping dramatically, making memory sticks and external backup drives not only a cheaper alternative to optical discs, but a speedier one as well. "We're a generation of instant gratification. It takes time to burn a CD," said Joshi. "We want instant gratification and a flash drive gives us that.
Flash drives also give us encryption and security options that you can get from an optical disk, notes Joshi.
New device form factors such as tablets, slates and netbooks are getting people used to the idea of not needing an optical drive. Operating system files are on a separate partition on the hard drive on most new computers, and new applications are purchased and downloaded over the web through the ever expanding app store model.
With more and more vendors making their applications available for purchase online and with more and more users getting used to this model, Joshi notes the use cases justifying the need for an optical drive are being ticked-off one by one. Even online movie services such as Netflix are removing the need for a DVD drive to play a movie on your laptop.
Lenovo is beginning to look at shifting away from optical drives in future product sets, said Joshi. Slates and tablets which are now the hottest form factors, are already optical drive free and with ultrathin and mobile the trend in laptops, most purchasers there are opting to ditch the optical drive. The trend is slower on the desktop side but it is there, said Joshi. Lenovo's newest consumer desktop all-in-one, the IdeaCenter A310, has no optical drive.