Apple allows Rhapsody music streams on iPhone

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Apple has approved RealNetworks’ Rhaspsody music-streaming service for the iPhone, once again opening its doors to an iTunes competitor.

The decision announced Thursday comes a week after Apple, now the world’s top music retailer, blessed an iPhone application by music service Spotify, which for now will work only in Europe.

The ad-free Rhapsody service costs $15 per month and includes 8m songs and Rhapsody-programmed playlists. It only works when the phone, or an iPod Touch, is connected to the internet via 3G or WiFi.

Unlike the Spotify application, Rhapsody’s includes links to the iTunes store, which is helpful to Apple. A free app already available, from Pandora, requires listening to some unsought tracks similar to those a user selects.

Once quite critical of subscription music offerings, Apple has been more open-minded of late. The approvals may have something to do with scrutiny from the likes of the US Federal Communications Commission, which is investigating smartphone tie-ups with telecom carriers in general and Apple’s recent rejection of a voice application by Google in particular.

Meanwhile, the update to iTunes released yesterday once again blocks Palm’s Pre devices from syncing with iTunes playlists. Clearly some limits to Apple’s openness remain.

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