Physical Media goes to iHeaven

Categories Economics, Technology

Today marks the annual WWDC Apple Keynote. It’s a time where new Apple products such as the iPhone tend to be announced and upgrades to the existing OSx operating system are promoted. However, today will be a much more hard hitting event with far more wide reaching consequences.

Yes, the usual upgrades will be present that we are used to seeing year on year but today, if most technology experts are correct, should see the announcement of “iCloud”.

iCloud will be Apples first entry into the full streaming media market and will see it probably outcompete existing services such as Spotify and Grooveshark purely down to it’s huge technological advantage and brand loyalty. The predicted concept of iCloud is that all music purchased from Apple’s flagship music platform iTunes will be available to upload to a huge data centre speculated to be in North Carolina and thus will be able to be streamed, over the internet, from anywhere in the world (provided users have wi-fi or mobile internet coverage).

While there are already similar streaming music services available now, Apple’s foray into the market is significant because they hold a huge market share in the MP3 player market. This will mean that Apple’s marketing and product innovation will entice just about everyone who is still dabbling in physical media to enter into the digital age.

In fact, it’s looking like the rapid expansion and innovation of the music and media industry in terms of the digital platform will make physical media such as disks completely obsolete. Companies such as HMV and Waterstones are already feeling the effects as they plunge further towards bankruptcy due to overwhelming competition from online platforms such as the Kindle service and iTunes. In 2010, Blockbuster looked on the edge of extinction due to the lack of demand for physical DVD rentals when On-Demand streaming services have become so prevalent. Since then the firm has been purchased by popular satellite TV operator “Dish Network” and been converted into an On-Demand video service itself.

It’s logical to think of the advancement of technology as a travelling spotlight. As the spot of light moves across a surface more areas become illuminated but only at the expense of areas that have been illuminated for a while. At the minute, the online platform is becoming illuminated and physical media is falling into darkness. However, we should be wary of letting physical storage methods die of completely. This is due to the fact that they are far more secure and reliable than cloud storage and, as the recent Sony scandal has shown, less prone to tampering. It is also far easier to delete and eradicate digital content which may lead to a lack of recorded history for this point in time as all records migrate to the cloud.

The advancement of the cloud may also be at detriment to the economy as it requires much less maintenance, and therefore less employees, than a full physical media distribution network. But in a way, environmental benefits may nullify this as less transportation and raw materials are needed.

At the end of the day, a small minority of people will moan about how the cloud is taking away their precious CDs and records but most people will welcome Apple’s latest development with open arms and proclaim it the future. This is just another step in the death of en masse high street shopping and a leap towards retail markets become more monopolised by large firms such as Apple and Tesco due to the huge amounts of capital needed to compete in the cloud industry.

Currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Annes College, Oxford University. I have a keen interest in applied economics, food and most types of sport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *