Is a leaf shutter the most desirable shutter function (given some hypothetical freedom) or is it only the product of the possibilities one had with mechanical tech?
What about a kind of lcd-display in front of the sensor where you could design the spatial and temporal response with some freedom?
Copal shutters are in actuality not that good compared to other shutters/aperture systems. The aperture is far from being circular (unless wide open of course), and the max speed is "only" 1/500, the precision in timing is something like 1/6 stop off (if you shoot several shots in a row with same shutter speed you see slight varying exposure, which you don't do on a electronic shutter), the longest exposure before bulb is only 1 second. It does not take that many shutter cycles before service is required compared to many other systems. You need to control lens open/close stopping down before exposure manually.
So in terms of features it's not that cool. However, it works for the way it's used and fits well into the tech camera genre. Tech cameras are fully mechanical (or was until cameras like HCam and Alpa FPS came along) and a mechanical shutter is logical and charming. The current electronic shutters that are made as drop in replacement for copal shutters are not impressive at all, very expensive, slow (1/125 max speed often), and ugly bulky remote controls, and probably not field tested in tough weather conditions (i e made for studio only).
An electronic shutter needs power and control from somewhere, and due to the multi-brand modular ways of tech cameras there's no standardized nice integration. Extra cables and a control box. Not nice.
The electronic leaf shutters in MF SLRs have more impressive performance, very high flash sync speeds etc. High flash sync speed and low vibration issues (focal plane shutters for large sensors can be an issue concerning vibration) is the primary features of leaf shutters.
A light tight LCD plane would be cool if it was possible but has the issues that it will require new lens designs (extra glass to pass which will cause chromatic aberrations on wides), unless you could integrate it with the IR-filter on the digital back. Not sure that there is such a thing as a "LCD" that can go from 100% clear to 100% light tight in a millisecond though, so it's theoretical.
What I hope will happen is that we'll see a new mechanical alternative which becomes the new default. I just don't see it likely that we can get a nice integrated electronic shutter, the tech cam makers are too fragmented for that. Preferably with a much rounder aperture but otherwise I'm satisfied with the Copal functionality. Unfortunately I think whatever solution there will be it is unlikely that the cost will be kept as low as it was for Copal shutters.
Worst case is that none of the manufacturers take responsibility and instead thinks that the current electronic shutter is what everyone wants and needs. I guess that would boost the popularity of HCam and Alpa FPS :-).
External shutters has been in used earlier though, Sinar has its automatic aperture shutter for example. Sharing shutter instead of having a separate one for each lens is of course smarter in a way, I just don't really see that many of the current tech cameras is ready for such a change right now.
If I've understood things correctly the production won't end until the end of the year and there will be some stock, so it will be possible to buy new Copal shutters well into 2014 or even longer. So there's still some time, it would be interesting to know how the industry plans to solve this though.