Apple has given its green light for the addition of Real Networks' Rhapsody application to the App Store, a move that may convince Apple critics that the company has relaxed its inclusion rules.
The move comes a few days after the app of Swedish online streaming music service, Spotify, was included and will allow users to access up to eight million sound tracks on Rhapsody, nearly twice as many as Spotify.
We have yet to confirm whether the package offered is Rhapsody to Go which, according to Rhapsody's online FAQ, is only available on Windows platform. Note that the App is free, doesn't include Spotify's offline mode and like all 3rd party Apps, you can't run it in the background.
It is the first time that Apple has allowed on demand music streaming on its mobile platform in the US. Spotify has yet to launch in the US while Rhapsody is not present outside North America.
The music though is streamed at 64kbps, certainly to conserve bandwidth and to make premium offerings (like purchasing a proper MP3) more appealing. In fact, the click to buy option goes to iTunes rather than Rhapsody own store. The service allows personalised playlists and like Spotify and iTunes introduces a certain degree of social networking.
Users will have to pay $15 per month to the service - a price similar to Spotify - and failure to renew a subscription means that they won't be able to access their music libraries. Rhapsody has added that it is working on other mobile platforms including Google Android.
Rhapsody has yet to confirm whether its service will be available for Windows Mobile or for other rival platforms. Furthermore, Real Networks hasn't said anything on potential non US launches in the forthcoming months.