What direction will audio take in the near future????
Here's my prognostication about the future of audio: technology is advancing swiftly in two directions -- higher quality CD recordings (SACD, DVD-A, etc.) and inexpensive digital amps that capture every nuance of sound. Expensive 2-channel audio systems and separates will become less prevalent.
No, I'm not suggesting they'll go away altogether; there will always be audio enthusiasts who enjoy changing out tubes, testing out different gear, etc. I haven't heard a digital amp yet, but from what I've read, they could be the next revolution in home audio because they are much smaller and lighter than regular amps, don't emit very much heat, inexpensive, and apparently sound great (or at least just as good?).