RealNetworks submits Rhapsody music-streaming app to Apple's iPhone

'We have no reason to believe it won't be approved,' says RealNetworks

RealNetworks on Monday said it will submit its Rhapsody music-streaming application for the iPhone to Apple this week, perhaps as early as today.

The application, which will run on both the iPhone and iPod Touch, lets Rhapsody subscribers listen to any of the 8 million-plus tracks the service offers, call up saved albums, and tune into any of Rhapsody's ready-to-go playlists.

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Users will be able to stream music to both the iPhone and iPod Touch via a Wi-Fi connection, or on the iPhone, using AT&T's EDGE and 3G data networks in the United States. Only users who subscribe to the $14.99-per-month Rhapsody to Go plan can use the iPhone/iPod Touch application; customers paying $12.99-per-month for the Rhapsody Unlimited plan are ineligible.

"That's part of our deal with the record labels," said Ryan Luckin, a RealNetworks spokesman, today.

The Rhapsody iPhone application will be a free download for subscribers. RealNetworks also plans to offer a limited-time trial -- one that runs for 7 to 14 days, Luckin said, although details have not been nailed down -- to tempt others into trying the service.

RealNetworks' pricing strategy is similar to that taken by Sirius XM Radio in June, when it launched its free iPhone/iPod Touch application to stream most, though not all, of its "stations" to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Sirius XM's demand that existing subscribers pony up an additional $2.99-per-month to use the application didn't sit well with its customers, who lampooned the idea in scores of negative reviews on Apple's App Store.

Rhapsody on the iPhone will only work in online mode, and because of limitations on Apple's devices, won't play music in the background while using the hardware for other tasks, such as browsing or calling. RealNetworks plans to add an offline mode, which will cache tunes on the device for later playing, in the second version of the software.

Luckin didn't have any idea when Apple might approve Rhapsody for the iPhone. "It's a sit and wait game," he said, but noted that other submissions from RealNetworks have had a "fast turnaround."

As to its chances of being approved for the App Store, Luckin was optimistic. "We have no reason to believe that won't be approved," he said.

Approval by Apple is not guaranteed, as other iPhone developers have found out. Most recently, Google's integrated telephone service, Google Voice, has been in limbo for several weeks. Last Friday, in its reply to an FCC inquiry launched at the end of July, Apple denied that it had rejected Google Voice and said it was still "pondering" the submission.

Apple told the FCC that it has not approved Google Voice, "Because ... it appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."

Previously, Apple has told iPhone developers that it rejected their applications because they duplicated one or more built-in features of the iPhone or iPod Touch. Both devices link to Apple's iTunes music store to download tracks, and play tunes synchronized from a user's collection on a Mac or PC. Apple does not offer a subscription-based music streaming service, however.

A developer whose Google Voice-related application was yanked from the App Store a month ago has blasted Apple for the move, and again criticized the app review process last weekend.

This story, "RealNetworks submits Rhapsody music-streaming app to Apple's iPhone" was originally published by Computerworld.

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