I think it’s a fair point that aac sans fairplay is not the problem that fairplay presented.
In some bitrates, it’s true that aac does better than mp3, although I do not think that it’s at all bitrates, but only at lower bitrates. I think that we’d be apt to head to .ogg rather than aac if we analyzed which format is “best”.
So I think that Paul has a point when he says that just aac is not as much the issue, as the issue was the way that fairplay locked down aac, turning this “open source” into an “Apple only” technology.
Still, I am not at all sold on aac.