I went through my own thoughts on the mechanical v. electronic shifting a while back, but it’s always good to get other opinions on the topic. While they are pretty solidly in the pro-electronic camp (for valid reasons), I do think that the projection that mechanical will go away is a bit unjustified.
Maybe they forgot to caveat the call, but I just don’t see it. Mechanical will always have a massive cost advantage over electronics because it’s a simpler system to design and build. Is it possible that mechanical will go away on the top-end? Absolutely, I completely agree with that. It’s very likely that at some point Dura-Ace et. al. will be electronic only. Electronics allow for tighter tolerances, it’s one of the reasons why current electronic shifting is smoother and quieter than their mechanical counterparts. As we move to more gears, it totally makes sense.
But, there will always be a need for cheaper bikes. There are lots of people who won’t spend (for whatever reason) $8,000+ on a bike, and will still want shifting that doesn’t suck. There are also plenty of buyers who don’t want to deal with the hassles of an electronic group (e.g. charging a battery), or don’t need the benefits that they provide (e.g. commuters).
As long as these buyer exist, products for them will have to exist. One of the interesting things I learned while shopping for my fat bike, is that one of the reasons why I had such are hard time finding the bikes I wanted was that major OEMs shifted production from these bikes to lower-end bikes. Apparently the margin + volume for bikes under $1,000 is where the real money is made…