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Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?

With the rise of iTunes, Netflix, and other online sources of streaming and downloadable audio/video content, many now predict that physical media such as CD, DVD, and Blu-ray will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, sales of CDs and DVDs are down 57 and 33 percent, respectively, over the last four years, but Blu-ray disc sales have grown by almost 19,000 percent in the same time frame. Still, there are those who see Blu-ray as the last physical medium in the face of the online onslaught.

Others believe that physical media will never disappear altogether, in part because it's human nature to collect physical objects, and the sense of ownership is greater when you have something to hold in your hands. Additional factors in this argument include physical media's permanence—there's no chance of losing the data in a hard-disk crash—and generally superior sound and picture quality.

Which side of this argument are you on? Do you believe that the end of physical media is upon us, or will it survive the rise of online distribution, perhaps with the development of a future technology such as holographic crystals with terabytes of capacity? Or will it become a niche market as vinyl LPs are today?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice. Is your vote a real prediction or wishful thinking?

Is the End of Physical Media Inevitable?