You may be right about the business case Tim. Although having been a software developer in one of my past lives, I think there could be something come from a spin-off with the right developer crew. Especially in light of the large CNX user community I've been reading about in the forums.
The reason I would have Nikon keep Transfer is for the points you made in developing a "bridge" for NEF to other packages. Transfer would utilize the settings and internal proprietary information in NEF to CNX or third party apps.
If CNX were dropped or there was little in additional development then we users would of necessity look elsewhere for our processing as improvements keep being made in the image development within the camera. Without improvements in the Nikon software, camera improvements, communicated through NEF, would be meaningless.
Either Nikon keeps CNX current or they need to work with other app providers to accommodate NEF. Or they go to the RAW protocol.
OK, no more, as you say, "doom-and-gloom". Nikon will do the right thing...and we'll buy it.