The digital audio coding format MP3 has changed everything about music for each one of us, leading to plenty of new devices that evolved from sturdy walkmans to MP3 players, and iPods. The developers of the lossy data compression format MP3 have finally killed it with an announcement that they will terminate its licensing program.
The MP3 technology and its patent rights have a twisted history, but the Fraunhofer Institute claims the right to license various MP3 patents to software developers. The licensing program is now ending, and the Institute has released a statement saying:
Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.
The end of licensing agreement does not dictate that the MP3 format will no longer be available, it is more of a symbolic decision that represents a change similar to a transition from floppy drives to CD-ROMS and from CDs to tiny USB sticks. The newer formats like the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), developed partially by the Fraunhofer Institute will become a standard, but some developers may still continue to provide support for the MP3 format.
The MP3 format has died, but it has left a huge mark on the digital audio landscape, enabling easier audio downloads during the times of dial-up internet. The same format brought the gadgets like MP3 players and iPods to life, practically revolutionizing audio devices as we see today. The MP3 format offers horrible audio quality by all modern standards to it is highly unlikely to leave a sense of nostalgia to its users.
Ryan Maguire is the artist who makes ghosts and tracks out of the audio that is lost during an MP3 compression. Below is such a video for the song “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega.