You are indeed right that the ITIL 3 certifications will be valid indefinitely and your accreditation will not expire, as with the ITIL 2 certifications. However, the exams will cease to be available from 2020 (approximately one year following each certificate's release).
For someone starting out on an ITIL certification track this will mean that if you're looking to attain ITIL 3 (2011) Expert, then you will have until the end of 2020 to do so. Now the dates for ceasing the ITIL 3 Intermediate exams haven't been confirmed yet, but we've been told it's H2 2020.
You mention relevance going forward, well from what I observed in the move from ITIL 2 to ITIL 3, employers started looking for people who had the new certifications as soon as they were released. It didn't take long before job adverts / listing stopped mentioning ITIL 2 altogether. Given the VUCA nature of rapid change within IT now, I suspect that this will happen even quicker for the ITIL 3 to ITIL 4 change. ITIL 4 is more relevant for the VUCA industry and employers are aware of this.
We will be starting to release out ITIL 4 series within the next couple of weeks, and in my professional opinion I would recommend the ITIL 4 track for anyone considering starting with ITIL accreditations now.
The ITIL 4 Foundation exam is due for general release at the end of February. The "Intermediate" levels in the 2nd half of 2019. We have been advised by Axelos that we can release our materials slightly prior to the exam launch date, but I don't have a confirmed date as yet.
In terms of changes to the content, there is significant new content at all levels and ITIL 4 will be replacing ITIL v3 2011. ITIL v3 will be be discontinued by Axelos starting next year (2020).
I did consider recording an "update" series, however the changes at Foundation level are significant enough that the Foundation series itself will concentrate mainly on new concepts, so this it's not a viable option.
Thanks very much Lee
Both courses are very similar in content, but they are accredited by 2 different examining boards.
Agile Foundation looks at all flavours of Agile and uses generic terminology, whereas Scrum Master concentrates on Scrum, and uses specific Scrum terminology.
Herein lies the dilemma: the Foundation series will give you a broader overview, but the Scrum Master accreditation is what employers look for on a CV. So if you're basing your decision on content, I would definitely go for the Foundation; however if you're looking to take an exam for your CV then the Scrum Master will be the most relevant.
I hope this answers your question.
Thanks very much
The downloadable materials we have on the ITIL Foundation show are enough for your exam, however if you're wanting additional material then I'd certainly recommend the official ITIL Handbook: https://www.amazon.com/foundation-handbook-Stationery-31-Jan-2012-Paperback/dp/B011T6SNXO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1525958129&sr=8-2&keywords=itil+foundation+handbook+2012
It's less than $10 and contains everything you'll need for the Foundation test.
There are a plethora of other books available, but in ITIL we call them "complimentary material" as they're guidance built on other people's experiences and not official. They may be useful in IMPLEMENTING an ITIL framework, but unless they're written by ITIL examiners they are not necessarily going to help with the tests.
I always advise delegates to stay away from anything other than the official material for testing; I've seen some exam guides that are blatantly misleading and will get you the wrong answers on your test if you follow them.
The ITIL sample papers on the Axelos website are good for study (you'll need to create a login id) and I'm more than happy to help if you have any specific questions or concerns about your test.
Let me know how you get on! :-)