Forrest: Yes, I agree that everything we're talking about here only works for download models of selling music.
I believe the decline of the CD is greatly overstated and will be around for MANY years. Manufacturing CDs is so cheap that as long as profit can be made, the format will stick around... even if it's only for us "crazy" people.
If and when 24/44.1 or 24/96 becomes the new standard, would a physical product still be viable? I certainly hope so. Just so everyone knows, I'm actually not a huge advocate to purchasing music from services such as iTunes. The main reason is audio compression. But a close second is, like most of you here, I enjoy the physical product in my hands.
Any music I purchase is almost always on CD, unless it's not available in that format of course.
Also, I have to say that comparing 24-bit stereo to 5.1 surround doesn't really work as an argument. Any serious producer already works in 24 or 32-bit float, whereas those producing in 5.1 are far and few between.
To be fair, I understand and fully acknowledge your side of the argument though. Just call me a dreamer.
JKN: I love the idea of moving away from local storage and streaming everything from the "cloud". Given that my content would be stored on redundant raid arrays, it's safer there than on a flash memory or a drive. I think it's only a matter of time until it becomes a popular option, or even the norm in the far future.
Pete: If I understand you, I agree that the time for MP3s isn't over yet. If anyone attempts to make such a change overnight, they're just shooting themselves in the foot. I just want to see MP3 become less desirable as new formats become available until it's not needed anymore.