updated 04:35 pm EDT, Tue October 13, 2009
Threat to iTunes?
A forthcoming version of Real's Rhapsody iPhone app should support offline listening, a designer of the software says. Although Rhapsody mobile service is priced at $15 a month, iPhone and iPod users can currently only stream music, whether through Wi-Fi or 3G. Offline listening would likely allow the storage of tracks for the duration of a subscription, making the app more practical in areas with bad or inconsistent connections.
The technology could at the same time present a minor threat to Apple's iTunes Store, from which shoppers can only buy permanent tracks on a per-song or per-album basis. Only Apple's audio software is allowed to run in the background on iPhones and iPods however, and the company has recently become more friendly to rival businesses on its platform. The change may be based partly on pressure from government agencies, namely the FTC and FCC.
Real has meanwhile promised that the next version of Rhapsody for the iPhone, v1.1, will at least have improved sound quality. The company is also promising better stability, and in the long run, features like more elaborate album sorting and a Spotlight-searchable library. The eventual goal is thought to be closer parity between all Rhapsody clients.