Actually, the Original Cricut Cake machine is most similar to an Expression. I have one and you can actually use the E mats if you ever wanted to cut paper with it. Also, Nathan's letter indicates that they are only discontinuing the Imagine and the Cake machines. ALL other machines are still being manufactured. That includes the Original, Create, Expression, E2 and the Mini machine.
PC is under new management and IMO trying very hard to satisfy customer needs. I think unfortunately for them they bought into a lot of unsolvable issues. I have a mini machine and had issues getting it to cut with my Gypsy. I have to say though that PC forum moderator on the Cricut site reached out to me and called me at home to help me work through getting my issue corrected. They were very friendly and helpful and did resolve the problem.