Bill Gates: “The format that’s under discussion right now, HD versus Blu-ray, that’s simply the last physical format we’ll ever have. Even videos in the future will either be on a disk in your pocket or over the Internet and therefore far more convenient for you.”
The modern use for inexpensive physical media is to conveniently deliver/archive volumes of data common broadband cannot. Unless the latter becomes infinite, the former cannot become obsolete. For flash drives to replace optical media as the former, they'd have to get a lot cheaper. Right now, a 4-gig flash drive goes for US$ 309, while I can grab 4.7-gig DVD-R at the mall for US$ 0.15.
But hey, I'm a big fan of digital delivery and removable storage. I'm as hopeful about their future as you are, Bill. The CD-ROM was standardized in '85, the DVD-ROM in '96. Wonder if HDDVD or Blu-Ray will get even a single decade.
Just don't tell our government. They put up an "Optical Media Board" two years ago -- and put an actor at the helm. Hey, I told them it was a bad idea.