AAC snatches defeat from jaws of victory

About the iTunes music store going DRM-free, the market benefit is universal compatibility. So why is Apple snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by staying with AAC rather than switching to MP3? It seems like pure obstinancy.

12 thoughts on “AAC snatches defeat from jaws of victory

  1. I will continue to minimize my iTunes use until aac is gone and mp3 is the mode of delivery. AAC has always been a kind of DRM in its own right, and one whose time is past.

  2. Apple’s use of aac afforded Apple the ability to create a proprietary hardware delivery system. This offered advantages to Apple, which could avoid interoperability, and advantages to its DRM-oriented licensors. As time goes on, Apple’s market dominance reduces the need for DRM, and will soon reduce the need for aac.

    The day will come when people stop rewarding this kind of behavior. But this day has not yet arrived. I run into people who don’t see why the acc/iPod has been so counter-productive, with the counter-argument they raise being the mp3 compatibility of the player. But aac and its use to perpetuate iPod’s dominance has been a truly unfortunate use of “hardware DRM”, motivated by
    profit at the expense of the consumer.

  3. I disagree with the general assessment that Apple should drop AAC. AAC offers better quality sound at lower bit-rates, i.e. streaming, than MP3. Further, it is the next generation of audio format.

    For us at Backbone we like it because we can embed other information in the AAC stream that we can not embed in an MP3 stream. That includes album art and web-links.

    I guess I do not understand all the dislike for AAC. It is an open standard that can be used by anyone. Most portable digital music player that are not iPods support that standard. It is not like DRM at all. Something many of us AAC advocates disliked intensely.

  4. In terms of just the media file format, Ogg Vorbis and WMA also have better bit-sound ratios than MP3.

    The issue is compatibility. Apple’s DRM was ensuring that iTunes Music Store customers had to use Apple’s devices to play back their purchases. Getting rid of DRM but keeping AAC accomplishes the same thing.

    I’m skeptical that there is anything to gain at all WRT compression ratios. Spreading file formats is nearly impossible, adding disk capacity is really easy.

  5. Hey Dan, it’s cool to see you here. How’s the move to AOL working out? Are you working on a more horizontal music product line?

  6. 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.

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