Robin Harris' post on whether flash memory will ever replace disk? got me thinking about the false dichotomies we often see in IT. Robin's answer is "never." He's right, because that's the wrong question.
The flash vs. drives question reminds me of the wi-fi vs fiber question. Whenever someone talks about fiber to the home, the first objection is that wi-fi will make that obsolete. Of course this is hog wash. It's another false dichotomy. I have fiber to my house and still use wi-fi everyday. Would I let you take my fiber away and replace it with wi-fi? Over my dead body.
The question of whether flash will replace drives is wrong, because as Robin points out, none of the advantages of flash can ever overcome the solid advantages of disk. Good news: they're both good and useful.
You're going to prefer flash in your phone because power, size, and weight are at a premium in that application. On your laptop, not so much and the extra elbow room at a smaller cost per byte that disks provide is welcome.
Doc Searls calls this "vendor sports" and industry journalists are good at it because it "gets eyeballs." It's one thing to compare to products that are competing for the same customers in the same market segment. It's quite another to compare apples and oranges as is done when people ask us to choose between flash and hard drives or fiber and wi-fi. No thanks--I'll take them all. No choosing necessary.