Adopting a similar PR strategy to Spotify, U.S.-only music subscription service Rhapsody ($14.99-a-month) has published details of its iPhone app, mid submission process to Apple’s App Store. While submitting an app alone far from guarantees that it will ever see the light of day through Cupertino’s official channel, by showing off the app now, including a video demo (below), it does ensure that any dirty linen on Apple’s part is aired in public. It also helps to build consumer demand from existing Rhapsody subscribers who also own an iPhone in preparation for a backlash should the app be rejected.
And rejection is certainly a possibility.
While other music streaming services have been green lighted by Apple, like European-based Spotify, it’s the on-demand nature of the service that potentially competes too heavily with the iPhone maker’s own iTunes. Unlike traditional Internet radio-type offerings, subscribers can pick a specific song or album from a catalog of eight million tracks for near-instant playback.
In other words, it’s like having the largest iTunes library in the world or kinda.
That is, it would be, if Rhapsody’s iPhone app enabled you to cache playlists for offline playback when you’re outside 3G or WiFi coverage, a feature that Spotify offers, even if like Rhapsody, the app has also yet to be approved by Apple. Rhapsody says it plans to offer caching in a version 2.0 of its iPhone app, presumably taking a one step at a time with regards to App Store submission hell.
Should Rhapsody’s iPhone app be rejected, it could actually help Spotify’s case, especially in the context of the current FCC investigation into the whole App Store submission process. Spotify is a relatively new startup, albeit one backed by the major record labels, and is currently a Europe-only offering, while Real’s Rhapsody has been around for a lot longer and is an American company. Real also hasn’t been shy of upsetting Apple’s legal team in the past either.