Sep 19, 2013

Have downloadable programs and SaaS made physical copies of software unnecessary?

I prefer having a physical copy of software, and that goes for everything from business software at my office to video games at home. Some companies are pushing hard to get away from physical copies, though, most recently Adobe with Photoshop. Are we at the end of the era of CD/DVD based software?

In general, yes. I think we are coming to the end of the usefulness of DVDs and CDs. Not just in software, but also in media. Who wants to fumble around with physical discs when you can simply download what you need instead? There will still be a market for a while for discs, but eventually they will go away.

It still takes a lot of bandwidth to download some software, and a physical copy often makes re-installation much easier should it become necessary. Some software, such as many office suites, are huge and take quite a long time to download. On the other hand, it is cheaper for the publisher to offer and distribute downloadable software, and they don’t have to share revenue from sales with a brick and mortar retailer, so they have a stong incentive to push downloadable software. I’m not sure how the costs stacks up for SaaS, since that is a different delivery model. 

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