Something New.
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Not surprising at all. In fact my son has predicted for some time that flash cards will replace optical media before long. Makes sense; no moving parts, no disc to scratch, smaller, lighter. Perfect sound forever!!!! Oh wait, that one's been used before ;~)
Great, I can play it on my phone. Will it feature phabulous Mp3 sound quality, too?!?!?
Audiophiles should be aware that flash cards, thumb drives and other flash (solid state) memory does not last forever. The drives have a limited number of read and write cycles before they wear out. Oh well, so much for perfect sound forever.
Etbaby - Flash has limited number of writes not reads - you can read it infinetely.
... and there's that magnetic field bug a boo too. One has to be mindful of where they are kept, and how so.
Blindjim - there is nothing magnetic in the drive. It migh get damaged from huge electromagnets (one that would pull iron from your blood).
This has been the dream since the first CD's hit the market. But all physical media may become a thing of the past. Music, movies, books and news will one day all be downloaded on demand.

Maybe someone is already developing an "audiophile grade" internet cable:)
As Agent K said, I'll have to get another copy of The White Album.
Tonywinsc - I agree but how they going to solve problem of copy protection? Downloaded 24bit/192kHz recording it can be copied for the friends or for sale. Attempts to establish copy protected standard (SACD, DVD-Audio, HDCD) failed.
I think you will either "lease" an album online, like on demand movies, or buy it and either have lifetime download privliges to listen to it, or else be able to download it onto a harddrive. Eventually, a digital tracer could be imbedded into copies to leave a trail back to the original purchaser.

I have read articles about how the album is becoming an endangered species because of music download websites. People buy only the songs they want instead of buying 12-14 songs at a time on an album just to get the couple of tunes that they really want. But we older folks will always likely maintain a market for traditional albums because that is the paradigm we are comfortable with.
Very likely the more astute owner of such media will be pretty careful with it... but what about their children?

I guess I could experiment with my thumbdrives and see just what will mess them up, but I'd specualte the usual fare of heat, large EMFs, water, and a size 11 shoe will hamper their style a goodly amount.

Greater and greater bandwisth seems the current and future way of things. So access and more immediacy should follow. the quality of the recreation is however, going to be the duty of the user... just like now. the vast majority will be quite happy with mass fi gear for that end.

Of course too, the makers will figure out a way as they have in the past, so that when one format, path, or device is prevealant throughout the market, to chage the format again... and we'll keep re-buying our White albums, Sinatra, etc. again, and again, and again.

BTW... locks? they were supposed to just keep honest people, honest. they don't stop crooks.