Paradox

A couple nights ago, I ordered an 11-inch MacBook Air1 as a birthday gift to myself.

Then it hit me: Apple still offers the MacBook Air SuperDrive as an accessory.

I find it ironic that for a laptop which Apple heralds as "the future of the notebook", there remains the option to buy an external optical drive for it, albeit a very nice one. I find it interesting because even the option of the SuperDrive seemingly runs counter to Apple's vision of the notebook.

Consider:

  • the MacBook Airs have no built-in optical drive
  • they don't even have a traditional spinning hard drive; it's complete Flash (SSD) storage
  • the Mac App Store is the place to go for software
  • and iTunes is the place to go for music, movies, and TV shows2

So given these facts, why would anyone ever buy the SuperDrive? Most likely, they wouldn't because it isn't necessary3. Moreover, it just looks weird to see such a bleeding-edge, gorgeous laptop have such a archaic technology tethered to it. Clearly, Apple's offering the SuperDrive for the Airs as a "in case you ever need it" insurance policy, despite the fact that, to them, optical media is a dying breed. By offering the SuperDrive, Apple's conceding to the small subset of people who "need" or even want physical media. But I wonder if there'll come a time where Apple decides to axe the SuperDrive altogether as a result of more and more people embracing Apple's vision of the future.

 

 

 

1. A BTO machine with the 1.8GHz Core i7, along with a case and a free $100 iTunes gift card.

2. Not to mention Hulu and Netflix.

3. To clarify, whereby "necessary" I mean for the Airs. Apple also offers the SuperDrive for the Mac Mini, which makes sense especially if you use it plugged into your HDTV to watch DVDs.