One thing that struck me during Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday was this odd moment when Jobs was trying to rationalize many of the reasons MacBook Air owners would be happy not having an optical drive in their laptop. He was going down a list of things we need optical media for and replacing them one by one with various Apple creations. Apple's perceived solution for not having a drive would be to buy all your media through iTunes and play it on your iPod, delegate the task of reading discs to another computer in your house, or simplify things with a new and proprietary $99 external drive. Sounds simple, right?
It's commonly been referred to as the "Steve Jobs reality distortion field" and there hasn't really been a clearer example of it since Apple launched the "simpler" version of its one-button mouse that actually had five. In this case, it's the importance of optical media and the role it still plays in our lives. While I applaud Jobs and Apple trying to get rid of what's admittedly become a weak and cumbersome format, I'm a little disappointed that Apple hasn't decided to offer a real solution to the problem they're creating for novice computer users and road warriors who want to avoid optical media altogether--at least not yet.
What I'm getting at is that Apple's in the perfect position to start offering digital software downloads to the masses, and tie it into a software system that millions of people are comfortable with giving their credit card information to on a daily basis. I'm speaking of course, about iTunes.
Apple's got all the pieces in place to start offering people computer software the same way Valve's been doing with video games with its hugely successful Steam service for the last six years. I love Steam for many reasons, but primarily for its built-in updating tools and easy-to-navigate digital storefront that make it easy to buy software with one click and not have to worry about it again. If I could get the same performance from an app that's admittedly become a little bloated but already has a decent updating system, I'd be happy as a pig in mud.
Two things stick out in my mind as being good signs such a service is in the works via iTunes:
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