btrayfors, I take your points, and I didn't mean to sugges that SSB's all will get thrown in the garbage within the next 6 months are anything like that. But, whereas historically an SSB has been pretty much required gear for bluewater trips or long distance cruising, I believe that will change.
Every single thing you mentioned in fact can be done via satphone and/or the Internet. You say that 50 to 100 cruisers check in on netsn every day; I'm sure you're right. But that exact same thing can be done via an Internet board. Right this very moment cruisers can use a satellite tracking device so that their positions are tracked on the Internet, updated hourly (check out www.iboattrack.com)
. That kind of thing will become more prevalent, and when it does the need to check in with SSB nets will be diminshed, if not eliminated. Same holds true for weather routing and anything else that you can think of for which you would need an SSB net.
Likewise, there are party lines for phones, conference call capabilities, IM, chat rooms for real time multi-party discussions, and the list goes on and on. While SSB's remain incredibly useful today, I believe that really will change. There is a social aspect of cruisers' nets right now, but that really can be replicated with phone calls. It may even get more social with conference videocalls via Skype or another provider.
I'm really not kidding. Just a few short years ago the only way to coordinate with friends, clubs, events, etc. on the water was to schedule times to connect via VHF. Now, you hardly ever use the VHF; you just flip open your cell phone. That's exactly the same situation that you have on the high seas now with SSB, and that's only because satphone technology and cost (and they go hand in hand) just haven't gotten there yet.
Again, I mean no disrespect, and we're all just prognosticating here so who knows what the future will hold, but I think the SSB radio has seen its xenith and is on the backside of its useful lifespan as a technology.