It's about time.
When you really think about it, there aren't many products more superfluous than boxed software. Apple has a reputation for killing extraneous hardware hangers-on that outlive their usefulness. So far, they've killed the floppy, the trackball, the Walkman and (stay tuned) the stylus. And now, it appears that boxed software is next.
MacRumors reports that Apple is about to push to move all of their software distribution to the digital sphere. This will free up space in stores, inventory in warehouses, and eliminate the cost of packaging these products. Apple offers Personal Set-Up to all new Mac owners, which will include a walk-through of the Mac App Store.
The Mac App Store will be the new primary point of distribution for Apple software. The only possible boxed hangers-on will be software made by third-party developers. It is unlikely that Adobe will allow Apple to sell Photoshop through the App Store (and take 30% of each sale). That said, there's no reason Adobe can't (or shouldn't) move to download-only software distribution.
In 1999, the iMac launched, lacking a feature that had- up until that point- been seen as utterly necessary for any productive computer. There was no floppy drive. A few short years later, the floppy was completely extinct from mainstream usage. Apple identified something that no longer worked and eliminated it from their product line.
The rest of the world followed. And they'll do this time too. It's hard to argue with the right idea.