Waiting for Mac OS X Leopard: Why no digital download option ?

OS X Leopard imageThe newest version of Mac OS X “Leopard” is out in the wild, but my Amazon.com order has an estimated delivery date for next week.

Not a big deal, but made me think: In today’s world of broadband and on-demand user behavior, why doesn’t apple offer a digital download option ? On top of it, it’s environmentally more responsible to do away with all the extra packaging, fuel costs for shipping, etc.

As far as expertise and DRM issues, Apple has the experience with it’s iTunes store and .Mac service to offer this kind of option and make it secure.

In the gaming space I’ve seen Valve‘s digital efforts evolve over the last few years into a really impressive offering. They have a service called Steam (gigaom review) which essentially allows you to purchase games and download them instantly. They also use the service to foster online gaming, do auto patching, premier game trailers, and fight against cheats. It was initally conceived because they had trouble with 3rd party distribution, and ironically today Steam is used as a distribtuion platform for other game publishers.

The other company that could also facilitate this would be Amazon themselves. They distribute music digitally with their new amazon mp3 store — so why not do the same for software ?

5 thoughts on “Waiting for Mac OS X Leopard: Why no digital download option ?

  1. Maybe it’s not security or accessibility that’s the problem.

    For the time being, the OS may need to boot from the CD during the install process because the computer cannot be running an OS on the boot drive while the new OS installs on top of the boot drive’s OS.

    SSD drives might offer some possibilities for solutions to this, as would partitioning on the fly, which I do not believe is available on all macs yet.

    Just a thought.

  2. raanan bar-cohen says:

    @ mike.

    Good point. With an external drive though I think it would be fairly simple to do, and after a bit of searching looks like there are a bunch of workarounds to allow installation without the DVD:

    http://digg.com/apple/How_to_Install_Leopard_from_a_DMG

    question for you: assuming digital downloads work — given a choice, would you prefer to download the software or buy a shrink wrapped copy ?

  3. gulli says:

    i fully agree with download version of leopard should be made available on website. the person can write the dmg file on dvd and later on install the same.

  4. svs95 says:

    They should just make an ISO image file available for download, which you would be required to burn to a DVD, then boot from the DVD drive as usual for an OS installation. This is know-how that’s been around forever in computing terms, including all the security issues. There’s really no excuse why this isn’t available as a download, except the profit margin is higher by charging for physical media.

    The environmental issues (when you factor in shipping) are NOT small. Neither is waiting – especially for companies like mine that just bought software that will only run in Leopard, and are having to wait for it. SHEESH!

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