Real's Rhapsody Takes on iTunes with DRM-Less Songs

Real Network is betting on its resurgent Rhapsody music download service to topple Apple's iTunes which owns anywhere between 70 percent and 85 percent of the market.

Real, together with double-act Viacom, is planning a USD 50 million marketing campaign to tackle the iTunes menace and will be offering free songs online via the usual suspects - Yahoo, Soft Drink manufacturers, fast foods, Verizon Wireless etc.

The music files will, for the first time, be compatible with Apple's iTunes and will be available in a DRM-free 256kbps MP3 format which can be played on almost all music devices.

Customers will be allowed to download as much music as they want to their phones for only USD180 per annum; the service is currently compatible with seven handsets with three more to come soon.

Rhapsody will also be selling singles for 99 cents and albums for USD 9.99 from a catalog of more than five million songs.

Many have tried to gnaw Apple's market share but none have been successful till now and according to some, Real Networks and Viacom should save their money and can the idea straight-away.

Rhapsody's music is Windows only for the time being with a Mac version in the pipeline; Verizon Wireless claims to be the second largest US seller of online music - after itTunes - although that includes ringtones as well.