More than 25 years after it was first developed, the mp3 format for digital music has been officially discontinued. The Fraunhofer Institute, the main organization responsible for licensing the encoders and decoders, has today announced that it ceased doing so late last month.
Apple was of course in large part responsible for popularizing the format, but also played a role in its demise. The format itself is likely to be around for a number of years yet as it’s used by many existing devices, and new ones will now be possible without licenses.
It was Apple’s iPod which transformed digital music players from a niche product used mostly by techies to a mainstream device when it launched in 2001. But it wasn’t long before Apple moved on, offering support for the superior AAC format in 2003.