Last week, Fraunhofer and Thomson suspended their MP3 patent licensing program because the patents expired. We can finally welcome MP3 into the family of truly Free codecs!
Then came a press push calling MP3 dead. That's dumb. Fraunhofer is only calling MP3 dead to push unwary customers into 'upgrading' to AAC for which they can still charge patent fees.
This is a bit like the family pediatrician telling you that your perfectly healthy child in college is dead-- and solemnly suggesting you have another child immediately. Just to keep making money off of you.
I would call that disingenuous at best.
No, MP3 isn't dead, and it's not pining for any fjords. The money that Thomson and Fraunhofer were previously collecting in patent royalties now stays in your (and everyone else's) bottom line. Don't license something new and unnecessary just to spend more money.
If you really do need something more advanced than MP3, the best alternatives are also open and royalty-free. Vorbis is the mature alternative with 20 years of wide deployment under its belt. Better yet, consider Opus, the world's most advanced officially standardized codec.
That said, the network effects that have kept MP3 dominant for so long just got stronger. Nothing beats its level of interoperability and support. There's no reason to jump off a thoroughbred that’s still increasing its lead.