The Future: No More Shiny Discs. Who Benefits?

It seems the world continues to embrace iPods, TIVO type devices, hard drive recording cable TV set top boxes and cell phones that play MP3s.

Even hard core, geeked out audiophiles like ourselves seem to be slowly but surely adopting PC based music libraries.

So my question is this:

As people in Peoria learn what "ripping" means
And even mothers in law get iPods for Christmas
And music, movies, photos, etc migrate to hard drives

Hard drive space just seems to get cheaper, but could this nonetheless fuel demand for drive makers?

Will digitized media force consumers to upgrade to more expensive chipsets or hardware?

Will HDTV content drive the success of certain companies?

Which countries are most likely win manufacturing business?

I am trying to develop some ideas for conversations in my business on these topics and would greatly appreciate any thoughts.

Thank you very much.

But the downside for the record companies is that buying music will now be ala carte, one song a time and only the ones you really want, no more buying 11 lousy songs to get one good one. That's one of the reasons record companies did everything they possibly could to prevent electronic distribution and only began to embrace it when the popularity of iTunes forced them into it.
We still use tape and vinyl for hardcore’s. Some still do not use shiny discs. Last year vinyl had a record no pun intended, year in sales. As the 10 - 20 year old crowd become latent adults they may drive the market, but with the resurgence of tubes as being Fashionable especially to a market that deems them cute, we might just find the opposite true, no shiny disks, just all vinyl.

Just take a look at fashions, 70s coming at you with hair and clothing. The real market is driving by easy supply and demand for specific age groups. The younger the target market the more computer literate they are and the more instant access they tend to be. Thus downloadable music. But the real truth is that ripping and downloading really became popular because of the cost – FREE. If you put up a store that gave CDs away they would be out of stock in a few hours.

If we educate the youth on the sonic advantages in like for instance tube equipment then you would see a resurgence of interest in this medium. But hey its way easier to take a IPOD than a CD player and way less work than carrying a turntable around. So technology determines ease of use in many ways.

Personally I think CDs will be here until I die just like vinyl, and I have hopefully 50 years left in me.
It will be more convenient for us to carry around. I was never one to think an iPod was serious audio. I have an mp3 player and a Shure E3, but just to travel on planes. I don't consider it anything other than a convenient portable thing. I'll still be listening to vinyl. The medium that started all recording when CD's go bye bye.

The record companies are hosed unless they come up with a way to stop online sharing. It's just getting easier and easier for people to get free music.
Audiophiles would NOT benefit. If online distribution becomes standard, then MP3's and it's compression might become the only way to find rare recordings.

I've noticed that stores like Future Shop and Best Buy have been downsizing their CD stock over the past several years and only ordering top selling, youth oriented music. Jazz, blues and classical are not restocked. Together with smaller "record" stores going out of business, I'm beginning to get concerned not just for consumers but artists as well.
As with so many discussions of the future, the best we can do is speculate. And even the most informed speculation can be way off the mark. I admit it's fun thinking about it and discussing it but ultimately something we never anticipated could become reality.