Funny how Rhapsody plays second fiddle to Spotify, at least within the industry.
But stateside, consumers have little familiarity with Spotify, and Rhapsody has been offering a similar concept for years – albeit in a mostly paid version. That has attracted a niche audience, though a recently-approved iPhone app could change that profile. The Apple approval first surfaced on Wednesday, and the app is now available for download.
The app is available for a $15 monthly charge, similar to the Spotify approach. The Rhapsody To Go account also includes PC-based access, a nice step towards the cloud. But the first version does not cache tracks for disconnected playback, making the proposition dicey while using AT&T. Rhapsody Radio, personalized playlists, new releases, and other charts are also part of the application, and Rhapsody is the first on-demand music store to hit the iPhone in the US.
The approval comes despite some potential competition to the iTunes Store and embedded iPod. Theoretically, music fans will be tempted to shift their listening to a massive, in-the-cloud library, instead of their own collections and iTunes purchases. But, that theory faces its own practical challenges, including a serious reluctance by consumers to pay monthly fees for music. Incidentally, the app sends subscribers to the iTunes Store for downloads, a structure that offers upside potential for Apple.