Shamelessly stolen from my lengthy comment on Yamahito's blog entry (on the CD's 25th birthday)
, I thought it was about time I copied it onto my own site for posterity:
The CD will probably hang around for a while for several reasons:
- They're cheaper to produce than floppy disks and DVDs, and will continue to be used to provide (old) drivers with computer hardware
- Modern music is still typically recorded in stereo, and albums are not usually long enough to justify a 74 minute CD (many albums are barely more than half an hour long). If people moved to surround sound then perhaps storage space would become an issue, but (sadly) most surround sound audio formats use lossy compression and will easily fit into a 650MB 74 minute CD.
- People have them and use them for listening to music and it will remain a popular legacy format (like vinyl, but unlike MiniDisc or compact cassette). It's the same reason why many computers stil come with 3.5″ floppy drives. Places are starting to phase out 3.5″ floppies (which appear to have become increasingly unreliable and are easier to corrupt than older floppy disks), but they're still around, and the CD will continue to hang around too.
- It's nice to have a physical copy of something, MP3s and other audio formats/files can be lost (accidentally deleted, hardware failure). Also, many audio files still use compression and digital rights. Some CDs use copy protection technologies, but not many of them (and they can often be trivially bypassed, which might be why most places don't bother with it).
I have noticed that Microsoft have moved away from CD based ISO images towards DVDs (for things like Longhorn, Vista, Server 2008, and even Office 2007), so TechNet/MSDN people burning them to disk will have to use a DVD-R instead of CD-R. This was a surprise to me for Office, as the files are small enough to fit onto a CD.
I think most people already use DVD-R instead of CD-R for exchanging files, and use the internet or USB pen drives for smaller files (I think it's about £5 for a 512mb drive). Once they become cheaper to produce than a CD or DVD, perhaps we'll see them given away with hardware (with recent drivers on?).
We'll probably eventually see people move away from dedicated portable storage devices (especially write-once formats) when all their devices have ways of communicating with each other (and built in forms of internal memory, like most mobiles and digital cameras already have). Many mobile phones already contain most features you could require (radio, music, video, camera, internet, voice, large internal memory, calendar, contacts, alarm, timer, games) so the need to move files around may be less important.