updated 08:15 am EDT, Thu September 10, 2009
Rhapsody unlimited music on Apple devices
RealNetworks today confirmed the approval of its first iPhone app with the launch of Rhapsody on the App Store. The free software is the first on-demand competing music app to reach the iPhone and iPod touch in the US and gives subscribers to the $15 monthly service streaming access to the entire Rhapsody catalog over 3G or Wi-Fi. Listeners can't currently download tracks permanently but can search and add them to their libraries, create playlists and have access to Rhapsody Radio.
Those who want offline copies are for now being redirected to the iTunes Store, where Real will collect affiliate revenue for each sale. An update is expected by the end of 2009 that will let users save copies within Rhapsody, but this may not disrupt iTunes sales as the Real program can't run in the background.
Worries existed that Apple might exclude Real were prompted by the company's hold on Google Voice and its historic policy of blocking apps that compete with its own apps and services, such as podcast downloading utilities. However, Apple has usually been open to services that function differently and has allowed paid radio caching services like Slacker to ship; a sign was also given that Rhapsody was likely to clear the approval process with the launch of Spotify on the iPhone and iPod for Europeans.