Half the beauty of the MP3 file format is its age (it was officially named way back in 1995) which means it doesn't support DRM and is completely ubiquitous. That said, we could do with a worthy successor...
To be fair, many have tried - from dismal failures such as Atrac to the still cruelly neglected Ogg - but high quality lossless audio is clearly the future, especially as flash capacities continue to grow at exponential rates. Of course we have suitors, Apple lossless being particularly prominent among them, but what we need is a universal standard and 'MP3HD' seems as good to me as any.
Launched by Thomson this month, the beauty of this new format is its simplicity. MP3HD files have a standard '.mp3' ending and store additional information in the id3 tag meaning that they will happily playback on any MP3 capable device (albeit without the additional sound quality). Furthermore, MP3HD lossless files claim a 100 per cent bit-exact replica of CD content and compress tightly to around 26MB for a typical four minute rock track. That means lossless albums tend to weigh in at between 250MB - 300MB, a perfectly manageable size.
Now the problem for MP3HD is the usual one: support. Until the major players like Apple, Sony, Samsung, SanDisk etc endorse the format then it's going nowhere. Furthermore, MP3HD isn't open with Thompson charging royalty rates of 75 cents per PC software/hardware decoder and $2.50 to $5 for the codec.
The potential of MP3HD is there for all to see but ultimately will we have a contender or just another MP3PRO...?