Gartner analyst John Monroe describes CD/DVD/Blu-ray as "the cockroach of the industry." Nobody really wants the technology. Nobody is really satisfied with it. But you can't get rid of optical because it's still by far the cheapest removable media available. That said, according to a DigiTimes.com report, Robert Wong, chairman of Taiwan's largest optical disc maker, CMC Magnetics, warned that optical media prices will jump by 50% in the second half of 2013 due to plant closures in 2012 and an industry reshuffling. Higher prices could very well hasten the format's decline.
Moving forward, consumers will deal with optical media primarily as a physical delivery system for entertainment and software, and occasionally as emergency boot media. Most PCs still ship with optical drives, but increasingly these drives will be offered only as external USB options.
Though the industry appears stagnant, new optical technologies are still being developed. FujiFilm, for one, recently announced a 1TB disc to ship in 2015 (no pricing was available). TDK has also been showing a similar technology. If shipped with affordable media (it's supposedly easier to produce than Blu-ray), 1TB optical could keep the unloved, unwanted, but still undeniably handy optical disc around for the next decade or so.
Meanwhile, Blu-ray continues to be offered on PCs, and remains a convenient way to share maximum quality, high-definition movie content. BDXL for write-once discs is currently at 128GB of capacity. However, its drives need to become more prevalent and media needs to drop in price for BDXL to gain traction. That said, 4K video, the big trend at the 2013 CES, could give BDXL new life--and give Blu-ray new life as a whole--if the Blu-ray Disc Association adds 4K support to the format.
With current SSDs bumping up against the limits of even SATA 6Gbps (as it's usually referred to), something will have to give in the near future. But the SATA III bus will remain in play for at least several more years, because it's more than adequate for hard drives, which will dominate the landscape through 2020.
Several new external interface buses have the performance chops to make inroads in 2013.