Death of PNG?

Ric notes a News.com story about the impending expiration of the patent that controls the GIF file format, and what that may mean for the PNG graphics format. See, LZW compression forms the basis for the GIF format, and Unisys owns the LZW patent. A few years ago, Unisys began to flex its muscles in enforcing the LZW patent, and this basically meant the death of free and cheap shareware GIF creation/manipulation software.
To compensate, the PNG graphic format was created, and a movement to rid sites of all GIFs was born. Well, Unisys’s patent expires in the U.S. later this month; in the rest of the world, next year. The PNG format, despite many advances over GIF, has not caught on heavily outside the geek community. And it doesn’t do animation, which GIF does.
Personally, I like the PNG format, and use it when possible over GIF. (Unless I’m using someone else’s graphic, though I have converted them in the past.) Most modern browsers support it, though perhaps not fully (viz: IE).
So after the patents expire, are we going to see an explosion of activity in the GIF creation/manipulation software market? If so, you may see the PNG format remain a second-class graphic file citizen, or worse.

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