Phil Schiller Explains Why Apple Opposes Moving Optical Drives


Every road leads to Rome, they say. In terms of Apple’s products, every road leads to iTunes and the recently introduced products just emphasize Apple’s effort to guide their customers towards their online stores: they removed DVD burners from portable computers years ago, and now removed optical drives from the new iMac as well.

Phil Schiller

The official reason as cited by Phil Schiller himself: power and space efficiency.

“It actually comes from similar thinking as with the portables,” Schiller said. “In general, it’s a good idea to remove these rotating medias from our computers and other devices. They have inherent issues — they’re mechanical and sometimes break, they use power and are large. We can create products that are smaller, lighter and consume less power.”

From Apple’s point of view Blue-ray also packs issues, and the company is ready to fend its customer base from that. How? It’s simple:

“Blu-ray has come with issues unrelated to the actual quality of the movie that make [it] a complex and not-great technology…So for a whole plethora of reasons, it makes a lot of sense to get rid of optical discs in desktops and notebooks.”

His preferred Blu-ray alternative? iTunes, of course, which lets you buy a movie and then watch it on all your Apple devices, the Time article notes.

In other words: it’s time to place your CDs and DVDs in a box, because now everything is available in the Mac App Store or iTunes Store. You can forget about lending your favorite  DVD or music disk to your friends.

And they may be right — this is a way to fight piracy. What do you think?


  • I think it’s absolute crap. What about all that media out there that is not available on the Internet? For example,I used to take music from my collection and put it on my computer and stream it all over my home network or put it on my iPod or iPhone so I could take it anywhere with me. It had nothing to do with distribution. Only my own enjoyment.

  • Chris

    The real issue is they get a piece of the action if you buy from iTunes, if they had bluray support and you watched a bluray they wouldn’t get anything.

  • But when you like old and/or obscure movies/tv shows, a hard copy on DVD beats hoping Netflicks/iTunes carries it when I want to see it.

  • fredf

    You know, not everyone who uses a Mac is into just games and music. I teach at UofT in the Faculty of Medicine. Not often, but occasionally I need to load an xray image or some other report that has been sent to me on a CD. I need access to an optical drive from time to time. Period.

    Unless Apple is writing off all business and scientific users.

  • londonfish

    Even I like most of Apple’s ideas, this one is very inconvenient, DVD/BD are still mainstream media not limited to movies/songs, like I do backup family photos/videos on DVDs.

  • anon

    It’s all about control, and money. Apple wants to filter everything through iTunes and control the market, and ultimately control you – the user. lol

  • anon

    You do realize you can always buy an external USB DVDRW drive for like $50, right?

  • Mark

    The point of the article, like most of the comments thus far, is incredibly moronic. How often do you reach for a DVD/BD these days for your computer? I do once a month for archival backups. And on rare occasion when I want to burn a copy to my computer so that I can add it to my iPad. Everything else I watch on a regular TV. DVD/BD drives are seldom use devices these days. Yes, you may need one. So just buy an external one. It will likely last you for SEVERAL computers.

  • That’s true. When Apple first debuted the MacBook Air without an optical drive, people were shocked. At the time I was still using CD/DVDs for burning backups, transferring data, etc.

    Today? I haven’t touched a DVD or CD in years. Everything is on USB thumb drives or downloaded via the web. Get an external like you said and it’ll last for years.

  • Simon B

    I think removing the optical drive to achieve the aesthetic look of the new iMac is more than justified. The new sleek form factor is going to be one of the strong selling points due to the lack of retina display.

  • xxxJDxxx

    Why not just use and external HD or USB drive? With the price of TB’s of storage these days its probably more cost effective too.

  • Offsite cloud storage is the new DVD backup (ie CrashPlan). If someone’s house burns down, those onsite backups are useless.

  • jabohn

    Wouldn’t work for me, either at home or at work, where I have 25+ DVD’s worth of backups.

  • ThatGuy

    It’s just too soon to be phasing out DVDs, that’s what apple wants though. And they will do it. Time to throw away your DVD player and get an Apple TV so you can buy your media on iTunes. It’s yet another money grab at the cost of the customer’s convenience. Plain and simple.

  • Mark

    This is worthy of SNL. “Oh no! Apple is making me buy movies on iTunes.”

  • Biggy604

    This wont fight piracy as people download illigal copies of movies for free and HD quality way before they get released in iTunes or other forms of payed digital distribution. Same goes with music, as long as its there people who pirate will use it.

  • Rio

    I cant tell if your being sarcastic or not. If you have 25+ DVD’s of backups then you need to update your equipment

  • This is just unacceptable. This is just a cheap trick to promote iTunes.

  • jabohn

    Why does using DVD’s for backup mean my Mac Pro needs upgrading? At work we have backups going back over 10 years. I currently produce several gigabytes of files per month for our clients. And no I’m not being sarcastic.

  • Dr_Slurpee

    People made almost all these same complaints when Apple said floppy drives were to be no more on their computers. It was the end of the world and to be the downfall of Apple…

  • LoWd0Wn

    In one word – Quality!
    BluRay Discs are so much better in quality especially audio than to stream them from itunes or wherever. Great audio makes the movie!

  • anon

    You are living in the stone age if you backing up to DVD. Invest in a RAID capable NAS and several 2-3TB drives.

  • macgurrl

    That is why I have always used a external dvd drive/burner, so if the one in the mac won’t break down. Now is there will be more of a reason to buy one an external drive.

  • anon

    That’s what you’re bluray player is for, hooked up to your HDTV and 7.1 DD DTS receiver home theater. Not your laptop with 13-15″ screen and weak sound card. lol

  • anon

    Lol. Seriously, who still uses a DVD player? Bluray players are cheap and you have the Netflix and ‘services’ where you can download full HD movies for FREE. Stop holding on to old outdated technology and get with the times!

  • Jon

    Lol, if you can afford a Mac, you can afford an external drive

  • Jon

    Seriously, why aren’t you backing up to external drives or the cloud? Join us in the 21st century already!

  • mm201

    There’s a segment of the market who are willing to buy the DVD but would rather pirate than “buy” a DRM encumbered copy they can only play in iTunes and only while the servers are running. This kind of attitude will drive that segment *towards* piracy.

    Cloud storage is unacceptable since big brother gets to read all your private documents.

  • Scientist

    As far as I can remember, in all U of T hospitals around Toronto there’s a work station with eFilm on every single corner, office, nurse station etc, etc… In the other hand, you shouldn’t been watching those CD’s on your personal computer, that’s against the privacy of the patients… and if it is for academic reasons, is very easy to copy the images into a USB from eFilm.

    And of course there’s always the option of just buying an external reader, (but I insist, you shouldn’t been doing that).

    Bottom line: the scientific community is not running away on tears because the absence of an optical drive.

  • Scientist

    … and if you are a doctor and you teach in U of T… believe me.. YOU CAN buy a drive…

  • Scientist

    EVIL APPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give me my Floppy disc back!!!!! I hate you!!!!

    really??… I just found there’s a thing call ‘Internet’ … it’s amazing the things you can do there….

  • Floppy Lover

    Don’t let this people tell you what to do… I have 1,485,783 floppy discs with all my stuff…

  • jabohn

    I’m not letting anyone tell me what to do. They are making huge assumptions knowing nothing about me. I have no control on spending. I had to wait just to get dual-layer DVD’s so I could “convert” 100 CD’s into DL-DVD’s a few years ago. As it stands now, I have a secondary internal drive that has all my files backed up to 2002 and then everything also on DL-DVD going back further to 1998. It works fine. When my hard drive gets too full for the next backup, I simply remove a previous year from my hard drive. This is the print industry here, times are tough, money is tight. I’m just happy to have a Mac Pro that works great and is speedy.

  • The Hulk

    hahahaha…. really?… people just complain because they can…

    You want an outstanding sound movie to play on your laptop???… even if you put speakers on it…

    You want to enjoy a great movie with great sound? buy a Blu-ray and watch it on your home theatre cinema…

    When my GF wants to watch a ‘chick-flick’, nothing best than Netflix or iTunes store (via Apple TV any other device)… long gone are the days I had to go to blockbuster. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need great image or sound to watch ‘no strings attached’ or ‘the devil wears Prada’… in the other hand… The Avengers… on Blu-Ray… on my 3D 7.1 Bose DTS system … SWEET!!!! … by the way, the blu-ray comes with DVD and digital copy, you can download the copy from iTunes, put it on your iPad and give it to your kids on a long road trip… MAGIC!

  • LoWd0Wn

    I wasn’t referring to watching a BluRay on a lap top. Just BluRay in general as to the comment of getting rid of discs completely and using only streaming. My comment was intended towards that.
    There is no better medium to watch a movie on a home theatre than a bluray. That is the quality I was referring to.

  • Apple_Sauce

    Typical Apple arrogance. However nothing has changed, if you are not a compliant sheep that does things the way Apple says; you shouldn’t have Apple products. I am very glad I don’t have a mac, my iphone is painful enough as it is, lol.

    As far as the “cloud” being a solution, that is a cop out. The reality is that you don’t always have internet access, plus not everyone is comfortable putting private information in Apple’s hands. People should be able to backup certain information on disc and have it stored personally.

  • wow, tin hat is getting itchy, huh? Maybe, just maybe… they are actually trying to move past parts that take up space and power by removing it for the average customer and making an external for those who need it? That could be it. I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with iTunes. There are still alot of things you can’t get on iTunes or the mac App store that you don’t need an optical drive for (Creative suite comes to mind, grab it from their website). it’s great that some people want to still use optical to to access media, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to miss out. My Disk drive on my mac went a while ago and I don’t even notice. Grab a thumb drive (or an SDcard. I have a 32 gb now as my go-to) and go.