Update: I have a more recent post on this subject here.
The pundits were predicting that GM would have no choice but to plan to cut brands, and so it wasn't a surprise that they announced, effectively, the end of Pontiac and Saturn. We don't know what a "niche brand" Pontiac will look like, but it might be limited to roadsters and Australian transplants.
Saturn is probably just dead, because there isn't much there to sell. When Saturns were assembled at their own plant, it may have worked, but now that they are variants of other GM models, built in shared plants with shared parts, it doesn't seem like there is much to sell. "Strategic options" seems to me like it means that Saturn will be put down like Oldsmobile.
I wrote 3 years ago that GM should kill Pontiac and keep Buick, you can read the earlier post here. And GM did some things to improve Pontiac, by bringing out the audacious Solstice, and the G8, and the upcoming Sport Truck. But they also shot themselves in the foot with such decidedly unexciting vehicles as the G3, G5, and Torrent. The G6 is a handsome car that just needs some sportier tuning, in my opinion. The Vibe has the same problem--it is a decent car, very practical, but not very exciting to drive.
Saturn is unfortunate, because GM worked very hard to give them a sharp, well defined character and fresh products. The Aura won NA Car of the Year with its sharp looks and much improved interior. The Astra, a Euro transplant, is also a sharp car with good handling. But somehow, the brand just couldn't take off.
I hope GM recycle's the Saturn dealer network, because they are what gave Saturn half a chance to begin with. I shopped for one once, and I liked how I was treated.