The MP3 file format has been officially discontinued, as the developer for the popular audio codec has ended its licensing program – citing competition from other file formats as the reason behind its demise.

Just because the developer behind the format has stopped licensing MP3, doesn’t mean it’s dead and buried, however. That’s because in the European Union and the United States, the MP3 codec is completely patent-free – meaning manufacturers and users are free to use it as they deem fit. Despite that, the music industry has already moved onto brighter pastures – including AAC.

The developer’s praised AAC for its ability to offer ‘more features and a higher audio quality at a much lower bitrate’. Given the fact that MP3 has been around for 24 years in 2017, it has had some good innings – although AAC is a newer format, and was developed by some of the technology industry’s biggest stakeholders – meaning time was bound to run out for MP3 at some point.

AAC was developed by the likes of Bell Labs, Fraunhofer Institute, Dolby Labs, Sony and Nokia, with it already being the default format of choice on a range of products, including the iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS, and iTunes. That’s despite the MP3 file format being largely responsible for the success of the music downloads industry.

It’s not just manufacturers that have overwhelmingly moved away from MP3. Services such as Napster, Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer all use various other formats currently on the market. Apple Music utilises AAC, while Spotify has opted for Ogg Vorbis. Lossless file formats are also growing in prevalence; streaming services such as Tidal now utilise FLAC thanks to the fact that its compression doesn’t affect sound quality.

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