Let's look at a different angle... Hardware. Suddenly computers will not offer Firewire anymore. How will you tether when your current computer breaks?
I think this is a great example of how in the first several years of mainstream computing the backwards compatibility of hardware/file-formats/software was a major issue, but how in the last several generations this has been largely alleviated.
The Phase One LightPhase raw format (released in 1998) can be opened in the (free/no-activation-required) current version of Capture One 4. Since Capture One is a popular solution for Leica, Canon, Nikon, as well as Phase One users I would consider it a pretty safe bet moving forward. The fact that Photoshop, Lightroom, Irrident Raw Developer, and Raw Photo Processor can also open Phase raw files natively further contribute to it's future robustness.
SCSI and IDE were invented in 1986 and you can still buy new drives in these interfaces and there are numerous solutions (e.g. external enclosures) to use them. I will put big money on the fact that you'll be able to buy a firewire card interface with ease for the next 10 years and with effort for the next 20. They will come as they do now in the form of slide-in-cards for towers and insert-cards for laptops.
Plus the technical requirements for tethering a specific camera won't somehow jump over the next several years, so in the absolute worst-case-scenario you'd be able to use the same 2009 Mac Pro or MacBookPro to tether only 10 years from now as you can today. Especially with Macs (since the total number of models are so small relative to all the models of PC made) you can find an exact replacement in good condition at a reasonable price on short notice.
I'm not saying we should turn a blind eye to these issues. It's just I think this issue is over-hyped because early photographers got burned big time in the earlier days of computing when the churn-and-burn was much more severe. With the advent of virtualization (hardware, software, and even operating systems) and the lessons of early computing the world of obsolescence (though still real) is much less than it was.
Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
Head of Technical Services, Capture Integration
Phase One, Canon, Apple, Profoto, Eizo & More
National: 877.217.9870 | Cell: 740.707.2183
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