Phase 1 of this quest began in 2003 when Apple first launched the iTunes Music Store. At launch, the store only had some 200,000 pieces of music to download, so it hardly threatened the booming music CD sales of the time. But that quickly changed, and now iTunes is the biggest music retailer, with downloads far outpacing CD sales.
Phase 2 began 5 years later, in 2008. It was at that time that Apple unveiled the first MacBook Air — a super-lightweight notebook with no built-in optical drive. Initially, people were wowed by the machine, but that quickly dried up as performance issues kept traditional MacBooks on top. But the newly revamped MacBook Air, launched late last year, fixes those performance issues. And with it, Apple has also included a way to let people install software (such as re-installing OS X) by USB drive, further eliminating the need for an optical drive — something which I haven’t used on any machine in months.
And that brings us to Phase 3, the Mac App Store. As Apple has already made clear on their preview page, they intend to use the store to distribute their own key software, such as the iLife and iWork suite of apps. And all of these apps will be able to be purchased individually (for $14.99 if the screenshots are correct) instead of as a full (and fully-priced) bundle. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would buy the apps on disc rather than simply download them via the Mac App Store anymore. Again, death of the disc.