MP3 changed the way we listen to music, as we shifted from bulky Walkmans to compact digital listening devices.
But the digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by the people who invented it.
MP3 has widely been credited with turning the music world on its head by allowing digital audio to be compressed without significantly impacting the quality of the sound.
But the Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.
While the move is fairly symbolic — you can still use MP3 files if you wish — the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.
Better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard.
“Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers,” the Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement.
“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 [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H.
“Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”
Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC and says it is now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.