The advantage of PEAR is that it is package management. Package management is not frequently used for "mere" web applications these days. So package managers in that area tend to not have the same quality you get from the package managers of distributions. PEAR is not perfect and I think I made that explicit in my talk. It is obviously better than having no package management which is still the case for 95% of the PHP based applications. An alternative in the PHP area might for example be "composer" which has seen a lot of work and discussions during last year.
For now this is hardly relevant. We will definitely stick to PEAR for quite a while. But it usually takes a long time until the Linux Mag articles are available for free as well :) - don't even know if the ADMIN mag does this.