Physical Media's Sell-by Date Is Fast Approaching

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It's been quite a week for proponents of digital media, and it's only Thursday morning! Let's do a recap of the week so far.

First was the news that Netflix was expanding to Canada starting sometime this Fall. This is the first time that Netflix will deliver content outside the US, so it's a big step for the company. But what's really interesting is that Netflix in Canada will be a purely streaming service: they aren't going to offer rented DVDs. Users will pay a flat rate for "all you can watch" digital delivery to computers, game consoles and other devices. Using this model it ought to be easier (from a technology point of view; licensing is another matter entirely) for Netflix to expand to other countries sooner rather than later. Getting rid of warehouses full of DVDs and red envelopes makes expansion much easier. (Bonus data point from that link: PS3 owners will be able to ditch their Netflix Streaming Disk by the end of October.)

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Next up was the (apparent) Amazon bombshell that dropped when the NY Times reported that Kindle books were out-selling hardcover books in Amazon's store. That sounds less amazing when you focus on that "hardcover" word and realize the comparison doesn't include paperbacks, but it still shows that people are embracing e-books in a significant way. This isn't the first time that companies have tried to sell us on e-books: remember the RocketBook? But this time it seems like e-books are here to stay (and I for one couldn't be happier).

So we've got good digital media news for books, TV and movies. What's next? Digital delivery of music has gotten so ubiquitous that it's no longer news, really, but Roku did announce a partnership with MP3Tunes to let you stream your music from the cloud to your Roku box. Not from the PC in the office, but from the cloud. Roku customers get 10 GBs of space in their MP3Tunes locker for free. If you don't have a Roku, you can shave $20 off the cost of one and get a 50 GB MP3Tunes locker by taking advantage of special deal the two companies have put together.

Last, let's look at gaming. Consoles have slowly been building up their digital delivery service but disks are by far still the norm. PC gaming is a different beast though. According to Gamasutra, the NPD Group says that 48% of unit PC game sales last year were digital. Specifically it claims 21.3 million digital sales vs 23.5 million disk-based sales. Not surprising considering the shrinking shelf space devoted to PC games, and the tremendous sales offered by digital sellers such as Steam.

I used to be the guy that wanted physical media no matter what. Somewhere in the past few years that's changed for me, and I guess for plenty of other people as well. Now I look at all the shelves full of DVDs, CDs, game boxes and books that occupy every inch of free wall space in my apartment and wonder what the heck I'm supposed to do with it all. It just seems so...bulky.

How about you? Have you gone digital or do you still prefer to hold something in your hands?

This story, "Physical Media's Sell-by Date Is Fast Approaching" was originally published by ITworld.

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