With the invention of Netflix and other streaming services, I tend to wonder why anyone would bother buying a DVD anymore. Why pay twenty bucks for a movie when you can stream it for next to nothing? This is the way of the future. Movies will see the day when physical distribution is obsolete, and direct download is the only way we’ll know them.
I don’t think it will end there. As bandwidth becomes cheaper and faster, I think there will come a time when direct downloads will become as obsolete as CDs and DVDs are becoming today. The end result is there will be no such thing as a download. Everything from music, to video games, to movies, to books will stream off central servers.
I think we’ll reach a point when we won’t actually own any of it. We’ll pay a small fee every month, or a one-time fee to rent, and everything will simply stream. Even programs themselves won’t install to individual computers. Applications like MS Office will stream to computers on demand, as if the entire world is fed by giant fileservers. Gone will be the days of buying software. Instead, we will be subscribers.
Talk about copy protection. Theft and piracy will be impossible because we’ll never actually see the mp3s, for example. Just add your favorite songs to the playlist and the program streams them from a central server, just like movies are streamed from Netflix servers now.
If it happened today, suddenly, people would be in outrage, but if it happens gradually enough, we will accept it as the way things were meant to be. Things keep going the way they are, it will happen.