Is ERA's "MP3 Compatible" Logo Scheme A Loss Of Time?

The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) has launched an initiative backed by major online music stores to promote MP3 compatible as an international standard.

Major names like HMV, Tesco or Zavvi (ex Virgin) have already joined the dozens of other lesser known companies that make up the membership list of the ERA.

Russel Coultart, who is ERA Digital's Chairman and CEO of, reckons that "2008 has been the breakthrough year for legal MP3 downloads. We now want to take the message out to music fans that they can legally buy downloads which are not locked to specific players or computers or mobile phones."

Tracks will be available in MP3 format at online retailers which will display the logo and any hardware that sports the "mp3, tick" logo will play the tracks without problem.

But then, as puts it, isn't it just pointless? After all, there's no portable audio players on the market that are NOT compatible with MP3 files.

You don't really need to label hardware as being MP3 compatible as this is a de-facto standard; anything from a Linux-based super computer to your car audio system should be able to play MP3 files.

The reason why the ERA is launching an MP3 Compatible scheme right may be found in the crushing domination of Apple whose iTunes is primarily a shop which uses the AAC format, rather than the MP3 format.

It could also be seen as an indirect dig at (and the final nail in the coffin of) existing DRM solutions used by the likes of Microsoft (in its WMA file format).