The age of the MP3 is officially over. The developer of the early digital audio codec announced this week that it has ended its licensing agreement, ceding to more versatile formats as the new standard for audio files.
Gizmodo reports that the Fraunhofer Institute, which licensed MP3 patents to software developers, said newer MPEG codecs such as AAC “can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”
The decision likely won’t have a major impact on the digital audio industry, as most streaming and other services already use newer formats. But while the MP3 has faded from use, it had an enormous and lasting impact on the world of digital sound.
The format was among the first to make music easily downloadable, and helped Apple (AAPL) become a dominant force in music devices and distribution. The iPod and iTunes propelled the company to the top of the industry.
The MP3 was in some ways a revolutionary innovation that made audio compact and shareable, but due to its poor quality compression it is unlikely to enjoy the vintage revivals of older analog formats such as vinyl.