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Don't look at the media, Look at the data itself. In another few years, physical media will be anachronistic.
It is already almost pointless to buy a CD when you can download it across the internet. Yes, you can only download in MP3 format now, but assuming that internet connections become faster and faster, you should be able to buy a full redbook CD, download it, and burn it to CD. If it weren't for all the concerns with digital information copyrights, you would be able to do the same thing with SACD discs eventually.
Right now, even though it is on the "black market" and reduced quality (mp3) , any kid can download his choice of music to his computer and play it back on any device. He doesn't care what form it was when it was purchased... (though it almost always is CD)
All you need to care about is the actual quality of the recording and the encoding format. (mp3, pcm, dsd, wmv, etc). I can imagine a time when instead of having a CD or SACD player as you front end, you have a device that merely stores bits and feeds them to a DAC.
I can imagine audiophiles like us paying extra money for super high quality recordings in DSD format. Sure, the yokels can pay 99 cents for a song in mp3 format, but I would pay $20/album for full DSD digital downloads. At present day speeds, it would probably take a week to download them, preventing rampant illegal copying for at least a few years. Why copy it illegally when the MP3 (which is "good enough" for most people) is so easily available?
but I doubt "obsolete" from an operational standpoint. Part of it, as jpdaniel suggests in his post below, stems from what appears a natural propensity to own things we can touch, even pick up. You won't erase that in a decade.
There's also the question of how quickly a society already coping with the rapidity of technological innovation can adjust to an even newer means of music delivery. Keep in mind that while, theoretically at least, the younger generation catches on more quickly, we have an increasingly aging population, some substantial segments of which still have problems with programming the VCR's they haven't yet upgraded to DVD players or fathoming why they've lost their audio when their "multichannel" option button is pressed in on an AV receiver connected to a stereo-only system (I had to resolve this problem for a former jet fighter pilot just two months ago).
(And where in hell are all those auto-airplanes and two-Hiller Hornets-per-family that Popular Science promised back in the '50's would dominate our personal transportation universe?)
I don't think everyone is ready to give up their analog fetishes so fast. Many people define themselves by what they collect and display around themselves, and, conversely, a great way to see what a person is about is to browse their bookshelves and music collection, etc.
If you can have 332 discrete angles per pit/trough, then maybe you can eventually have a continuously variable range of angles which are analogous to a music signal.
Its all about data manipulation in the end........
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