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Phil Schiller says PC makers are 'afraid' to remove optical drives, other 'old' technology

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phil schiller
phil schiller

In an interview with TIME's Harry McCracken, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller chided PC makers for their reluctance to do away with what he deems "old" technology. “We find the things that have outlived their useful purpose," Schiller said, referring to the company's decision to omit an optical drive from its latest iMac desktop. "Our competitors are afraid to remove them." Schiller says removing these components allows Apple to shrink a product's form factor beyond what would otherwise be possible. To his point, it's hard to imagine Apple duplicating the sharp edges of the new iMac while handcuffed to optical media. Schiller also reinforced the reliability benefits that come with eliminating moving parts. "They have inherent issues — they’re mechanical and sometimes break, they use power and are large."

It's time to let go of the Blu-ray dream

The change has another side effect in that it all but obliterates any hope that the company would one day adopt Blu-ray in its Mac lineup. Odds of that occurring were always slim: Apple has a vested interest in steering customers toward iTunes, but Schiller had nothing disparaging to say about the format's top-notch video reproduction. Rather, he points to other factors, which the late Steve Jobs famously described as a "bag of hurt," for Apple's refusal to embrace Blu-ray. “Blu-ray has come with issues unrelated to the actual quality of the movie that make [it] a complex and not-great technology," he said. "So for a whole plethora of reasons, it makes a lot of sense to get rid of optical discs in desktops and notebooks.” Clearly many of Apple's competitors don't agree with that logic — at least not yet.