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Will music, software and movie stores become extinct?

Ross O. Storey | Dec. 2, 2009
Plastic disks are on their way out as a storage medium

If I was the proprietor of a CD or DVD store, I would be worried about my future given the irresistible progress of online digital movies and music, not to mention the growing global concern about the environment.

Just like the big vinyl records of my youth, it seems very likely that plastic processed disks, now used to store digital information like movies, television programmes and music, will soon disappear just like Imoegas zip disks did a few years ago. I still have a drawer full of them at home but nothing to play them on.

Firstly, theres the issue of climate change and the environment. According to the World Watch Institute ( Making products like CDs and DVDs consumes natural resources, produces waste and uses energy. CDs and DVDs are created from many different materials, including metals, plastics and dyes.

The World Watch Institute says: The discs are packaged in clear or colored plastic cases or cardboard boxes, wrapped in plastic, and sent to distribution centres and retail outlets around the world. If properly stored and handled, most CDs and DVDs will last for decades, and probably centuries. Depending on their condition, unwanted discs can be reused or recycled instead of thrown away, saving energy and valuable resources. Several companies in Europe, the US and elsewhere now recycle old CDs and DVDs into a high-quality plastic for reuse in products ranging from automobile parts to office equipment.

The institute suggests that consumers should:  

•    Find out if the information you're looking for on disc is available over the Internet. If so, you may not need to buy the disc at all.

•    Buy used CDs and DVDs or borrow them from others to help reduce the environmental impact associated with manufacturing new products.

Neither of these suggestions is good news for traditional CD and DVD retailers of music, movies or software.

And, if a recent Sydney Morning Herald news item is anything to go by, the writing is already on the wall for extinction for music stores and perhaps even software retailers.

The SMH reports that: Retail giant Big W is letting customers make their own software discs. Instead of buying a pre-packaged disc from the store shelves, a new kiosk lets customers browse, click and burn on demand.

The system allows the store to carry a range of software in addition to what it physically stocks. Big W is trialing the system, provided by Digital Lifeware, and the kiosks can produce a finished disc, complete with packaging and printed manual. The discs are fully licensed copies with the original cover in a DVD case.

The kiosks contain about 1,000 PC and Mac software titles. They cover gaming, languages and children's educational material, anti-virus and video editing, and how to set up your own website.


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