Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion is prepared to bet that U.S. media will be almost all digital by 2014 and that the tangible forms of media will be extinct or well on their way there.
That's a fairly heady gesture, but his reasoning is the declining business model of print in the U.S. and the rise of digital media across news, broadcast and music.
I'd take that bet, only because demography is going to help legacy media a little bit as the boomers hit retirement age (but maybe not, if the economy continues to turn down, retirement itself) this decade.
And I'd like to think that devices will emerge to make the Kindle look primitive and the BlackBerry like a museum piece to consume text, audio and video without carrying along an extra suitcase in the process.
But the digital revolution is going to take a little breather in the next 18 months as innovators hunker down and find it tough to get the capitalists to venture.
If Rubel is looking for a turning point, maybe we'll be sorting it out by 2014. But habits don't change that quickly and 2,000 days aren't that far away.
Vancouver's Terry McBride runs Nettwerk Music Group, home of such artists as Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies, and he's long been thinking out of the box when it comes to music and copyright in the digital age.
He has blogged in recent days on the emerging value of meta data in music and how value will be brought to music and monetized through the behaviour of fans. While it's a little off the beaten path for the news business, there is an analogy in there.
If there were easy assumptions in the new media world order, it was that the iPod and other MP3 players were killing radio as the source for music among young people.
Not so fast.
A recent U.S. report from Paragon Media Studies suggests 14- to 24-year-olds listened to more radio in the last year --- after saying last year they listened to less. It may just be a blip in a downward trend, or the music might be connecting better (or the music might be better), or it might be that radio has already absorbed all it will from the new technology.
Journalism comes in all shapes and sizes today. At the beginning of the decade, few could imagine the podcast, and yet all sorts of conventional media (like us) produce them (here are some from our staff at The Vancouver Sun, including one from our gardening writer, Steve Whysall).
Which is a roundabout way of discussing the cataclysmic change in music sales. Where a decade ago we were riveted by the massive change in music marketing through superstore chains like HMV, Virgin and the fledgling Wal-Mart initiatives, these days the most booming music retailer is Apple and its iTunes application.
A new report suggests 40 per cent of all music sales will be digital by 2012. Wired.com, extrapolating that data to reflect current market conditions, surmises that iTunes will corral fully one-quarter of the sales pie.
No one has surfaced to challenge Apple's dominance. But then again, a few years is a long time in any industry.
The effort to contend with digital displacement of conventional markets is making for plenty of new bedfellows, like today's announcement that three major music labels (and likely a fourth to come) have formed a deal with MySpace Music, not long ago the object of their scorn for infringement.
The New York Times' report is sketchy on the financial details, but essentially there are advertising-supported streaming and sharing services and some limited downloading --- with a possible unlimited downloading service for a flat monthly fee coming.
What's interesting is the creative sprawl of the arrangement. Like the Jay-Z recording deal with concert promoter Live Nation, there are merchandising and other revenue streams in the package.
What's important about this deal, of course, is how its collaboration of once-warring conventional and new media can establish a model for other media forms to strike pacts.