After mp3 “out”: music standard is far from dead

That's why MP3 will live on for a very long time

The licensing program for the MP3 format has expired. Nevertheless, the MP3 will probably be with us for many years to come, even though better alternatives are now available.

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MP3: Licensing program at the end, music format not yet for a long time

After 22 years, the Fraunhofer Institute has ended the licensing program for the MP3. Thanks to the expired patents, the MP3 can now be used freely; until now, companies often had to pay fees when using the format, for example in connection with corresponding audio software. The Fraunhofer Institute will not develop the format any further.

But buried is the MP3 with it at best symbolically. That the format will remain with us for several years, maybe even decades, is probable for several reasons. Only one trend could really compete with the MP3.

MP3: Alternative formats bring no real added value

The triumph of the MP3 was also the beginning of the end of the classic CD

The MP3 owes its triumphant advance essentially to two factors: One Small file size, which was introduced with a very decent quality goes along. Before fast DSL connections became standard, file size in particular was an important factor on the slow Internet. On the one hand, it shouldn’t take too long to download a file, and on the other hand, portable music players offered (and still offer) only limited storage space – and the smaller the files, the more of them fit on a CD or an iPod. The MP3 met both requirements.

Whether the favorite song is now four or six MByte large but with today’s Internet speed and massive storage space, it almost doesn’t matter anymore. Formats such as AAC or OGG are slimmer and thus more efficient with equivalent (or even better) sound quality; however, the difference is no longer really noticeable for the user, both in terms of quality and in terms of the time required for the download. Whether it takes one, two or two and a half seconds until the file is on the computer is ultimately irrelevant at data rates of several MBytes per second. In addition, practically all modern devices play MP3 files, while other formats are often, but not always, supported.

Streaming trend could replace MP3

Some of the first MP3 players did not even have a capacity of 100 MByte - today even cheap players can hold several GByte

If the MP3 should really be displaced, it will probably be due to the trend towards music streaming services such as Spotify; because simply accessing any music via the Internet is not only convenient, but also saves storage space in case of doubt. Going for a leaner format can be beneficial for both the provider and the user. The provider saves traffic, the user has to load his data volume less – and that with the same or even better quality.

The best days of MP3 may be over – but as long as not all important computer and smartphone functions have completely migrated to the cloud and the user’s data volume is limited, it will probably continue to play an important role for a long time to come. The MP3 has its place in history anyway – because only with it the pirating of music became popular and for the music industry finally one of the largest problems, which it ever experienced.

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