Take a look at this cool quiz hosted by Autodesk, the makers of the most popular Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software in the world: Autocad. There's a mixture of real photos and CG photos of objects and scenes and you have to guess if each one is a real photo or CG. I missed two of the ten. (Thought a photo was CG and thought a CG one was a photo.) For those unfamiliar, Autocad is what designers of manufactured products use to design things. They draw up the plans and send them to the factory and the stuff gets made according to the plans. There's also a mode where you can render what the object will look like and this rendering has been getting better and better as the years go by. Now Autodesk is challenging you to tell the truth apart from their renderings.
Do you see where this is going, photographically?
As I've mentioned before, I do some product photography work. Most of this work is for small objects for companies that manufacture stuff and they want a clean shot of their product with nothing else going on in the background. They draw it up in Autocad and have it manufactured and then they take a picture for the box and for the website, etc. So much time goes into making the picture look perfect with no blemishes, no dust, perfect color, shading, etc. that you end up working hard to make the photo look almost too good to be true. Almost fake, you might say. If Autocad can do such a great job, why pay a photographer and go through all that trouble? Why deal with all the hassle of art-directing a photo shoot to get just the right angle, lighting, etc., when you can just let the software do it for you? No dust, perfect lighting, perfect surfaces, etc.
I've actually lost a client because of this, since they plan to use generated artwork in a lot of places they used to use photos.
This is an obvious choice for manufactured products that get designed this way but luckily not every product is done that way. There are still unique, hand made items in the world. There's still the need for shots of products in situations that can't be modeled/generated/fabricated. There will still be a need for product photography - It's just that the low-hanging fruit of plain product shots may be withering away.
Now, if companies start modeling and rendering their executive headshots, then we'll have real trouble! (Yes, I know they actually do this in Hollywood and video games...)