Sony: Why Not Open ATRAC?
After reading about Sony basically pulling the plug on their primary ATRAC-encoded content delivery service, the format seems to be coming to the end of its downward spiral into oblivion. I think that ATRAC actually has a few nice features that have a place in the world of audio formats and it's a shame to see Sony simply throw that away. I think that a "solution" to this is for Sony to open up the ATRAC standard for use by anyone.
By opening the format, Sony will be allowing software vendors to use ATRAC in more areas than they would otherwise consider due to the licensing imposed. This would, in turn, increase the market share for the format and make it more tempting to use as the primary format on a device. I think portable media devices are about the only place you'd want to use it as such, due to the lower power requirements for decoding. Quality or file size advantages may exist as well , in which case more software media players would adopt the format as well. Ogg/Vorbis, for example, enjoys a huge number of players capable of handling its files due to it being free to use and existing implementations available for easy integration. For a format sponsored by Sony this number could be even bigger (iTunes? Windows Media Player?).
I know it's a completely absurd notion to think that Sony would actually do something like this but I can only really see benefit for them. Most of their electronics support it some way so isn't it beneficial to increase the number of people using it and the number of audio tracks encoded with it? If they're just going to ditch it for Windows Media then what real cost is it to them to let other people use it? They obviously don't want it. As I said, I know it won't happen but it'd be nice to see companies doing something like this more often.