Metaphor, The Power of

Why is software distributed on CDs and not on thumb drives? The question popped up in the recently introduced “LinkedIn Answers”. I chose to answer thus

Metaphors stick. And they continue well beyond their sell-by date. The “Save” icon in all MS Office Applications pictures a three-and-a-half-inch floppy drive, something that is a collector’s item today. But the metaphor stuck.

Software distribution is stuck with the CD metaphor. CDs are considered as “media” and hence – like what media should do – is used for propagation of content. Interestingly, a lot of companies give away thumb-drives containing publicity material and presentations during seminars, product launches and road-shows. It is quite likely that the same company is shipping its own software in CDs. Not that it is unaware of the channel – just that it is afraid of breaking away from the metaphor.

Any other thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “Metaphor, The Power of

  1. Since CDs are write once, therefore there is proof that nothing extraneous has been added to the s/w. Thumb drives don’t provide the same level of security.

  2. Thanks Arun. This is definitely a reason to not dump CDs in a hurry. Perhaps technology can help produce “clean” thumb drives someday.
    I would love to see how Apple evolves around this give-through-CD strategy given their Macbook Air doesn’t have a CD-ROM drive!

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