I doubt very much the former, it's nice you think they actually care that much about the consumer though. I certainly do not think my HP laptop without a drive as much of an upgrade. It is a bit thinner but I can't say that makes a difference even in traveling...IMO, it's less about cheapening out and more about trying to satisfy the consumer's desire for lighter/thinner devices.
CD/DVD media is on its way out, anyway.
And to an extent I agree on the media point. But they are still here for the time being and provide much greater flexibility depending on what you want to use it for. I like my lossless music and the agility to edit and transfer it...and it is certainly more secure as an archive than a "cloud'...