Why Physical Media Is Archaic

Most people consume media in a disposable method, despite the fact they want to own it.

Interesting conversation on Twitter this weekend with my new friend HarryAllen, as I’m discussing how I consume my media, in this particular case I’m watching the final season of Battlestar Galactica, season 4.  Some in Twitter say they’d prefer to buy the DVD set, where I prefer to have it on demand, and not own or have to manage any plastic.  

A few reasons why I think owning physical media (DVDs, CDs) is antiquated:  

  • 1) I’m impatient, I want it, when I want it.  
  • 2) Owning media takes up space 
  • 3) It reminds me of the 80s and 90s when my friends would buy shelves and shelves of VHS tapes –DVDs will be antiquated, as new formats are already coming around beyond Blu-Ray.  
  • 4) Owning media is a liability: It depreciates over time, can be a challenge and a headache to sell 
  • 5) It’s bad for the environment: If there’s anything the world needs less of it’s forged plastic disks and equally bad for the environment containers. 

Friends and family of mine like to own media libraries, but I question exactly how many times they watch it after buying it.  Perhaps it’s a Western mentality, the desire to ‘own’ and have collections of content.  

So what’s the future?  I prefer to buy via iTunes, or Amazon music (DRM free), or stream the shows live from the web, even Netflix offers on demand via the web –you don’t have to open the mailbox.  Once I buy it, I can always download it again in the future, and at some point, most media becomes free in order to give it a second life.

This isn’t just about TV or movies, but applies to my CD collection too –I will never willingfuly buy a CD again if I can get it on demand.  Could this apply to books with the new Amazon Kindle?  Maybe, yet I think it’s one of the few types of media that will still retain it’s original form –sometimes it’s nice to unplug.

Take my kid sister, who’s visiting at my house for our Mother’s day dinner, she streams content online, downloads it from the internet, and has an iPod.  I think looking at Generation Y is a clue to what is to come, media will represent the culture it’s providing for:  portable, mobile, interconnected, interactive and on-demand.

To me, owning physical is the old way, the new way is relying on the network.  

Would love to hear what you think.