It is really no magic. DNG is a TIFF format for handling raw data. It is well specified and the specifications are published. You can download a PDF from Adobe describing it in detail. It is proposed for standardisation.
Technically, DNG is fully compatible with TIFF-EP which is a specialized version of TIFF 6. TIFF-EP is also loosely used by other raw camera formats but the adoption of TIFF-EP by the camera makes is spotty at best. In point of fact, both Canon and Nikon initially took Kodak's .TIF file format and reformulated it for use in their camera, NEF by Nikon and .TIF and .CRW by Canon. Those early file formats were very crude and caused a lot of problems for early adopters. For example, Canon's .TIF file format could be opened in Photoshop because of the .tif extension but it would only open the preview file of the raw image. If you made the mistake of saving the file it would overwrite your original raw file.
In point of fact (and I know this from personal knowledge) all of the major camera makers (except Phase One and Leaf) really paid a great deal of attention to DNG and it's spec when Thomas first released it. The camera makers downloaded the DNG SDK and pored over the spec and as a direct result of the DNG format, subsequent raw file formats including NEF and CR2 were heavily influenced by what the camera makers learned from DNG.
Even if DNG never becomes a "standard", it's already had a huge positive impact on digital photography and for that, the industry owes Thomas Knoll a debt of gratitude...
Adobe has offered DNG to the ISO for consideration in the next revision of TIFF-EP...we're waiting to see what the ISO decides and if the ISO does incorporate DNG into TIFF-EP a lot of barriers to the use of DNG will fall.
Personally, I keep all my raw files as original raw files in both LR & ACR so my backups only need to backup the .XMP files. I do use DNG copies for final files that will not be further edited and for those rare occasions where I deliver a raw file (which is rare) because my renderings and metadata are embedded and not left to the sidecar file which can be lost or separated from the raw file.
In any event, DNG has been good for the industry and has been adopted successfully by some camera makers. DNG is not an Adobe conspiracy to try to control the industry, just to advance the art and science. There have been technical reasons in the past that gave certain issues as an excuse to not adopt DNG...in each case, Adobe (read Thomas and Eric Chan) have created revisions to address the technical issues.
The lack of adoption of DNG as a standard isn't really because of technical issues but political issues. Adopting DNG would not stifle creativity or block progress. Adopting DNG does not require camera companies to lift the kimono and expose proprietary technology. Private Maker Notes can still live in DNG files (except for certain encrypted files such as early Canon CRWs and Sigma files) and hide the camera companies' "secrets". I'm pretty sure that Thomas and Eric can take a file that has been converted from proprietary raw to DNG and take that DNG and reverse encode it back into a camera makers' raw file format that would pass the test of being processed in the camera company's proprietary software. I know the reasons that it's a function that is unlikely to ever show up in DNG Converter but I'm sure Thomas could do this if he felt like it.
I'm disinclined to get into a pissing match with anybody who thinks DNG is a bad thing...if you feel like that, you are welcome to wallow in your ignorance. What I'm primarily interested is making sure facts remain facts and that myths don't get turned into "facts".
Edit: Erik the above post was in response to yours but I'm trying to imply you are ignorant of the benefits of DNG...I started out simply explaining the TIFF-EP thingie and got a bit carried away :~)