Will Rhapsody for the iPhone Kill iTunes?
The 9/9/09 Apple conference was considered pretty uneventful, at least by Apple's standards, but there was one big announcement that managed to sneak under the radar: Apple will finally allow streaming music on its mobile devices in the United States. Rhapsody has arrived for the iPod Touch and iPhone, and that means that for $15 a month, you have on-demand access to just about every song in the world. Bye-bye, iTunes?
This represents the second break in Apple's no-streaming music wall. The first chink was the announcement that Spotify, another streaming music app that even lets you save songs you access online for off-line listening, would be available in parts of Europe. Rhapsody is similar. It lets you search for artists, albums and songs and listen to an unlimited amount of music. If you have a 3G or wifi connection, you're living in a world where almost every song you'd want is at your finger tips for essentially the cost of one iTunes album a month. Not a bad deal!
But also not an iTunes killer. Here are three reasons why iTunes is here to stay -- at least for a while.
1) No multitasking. You can't really multitask with Rhapsody. iPhones and iPod touch plays only one app at a time, whereas you can listen to your music on iTunes while browsing or opening other apps.
2) No off-line listening. You can't listen off-line. Rhapsody can't save songs for off-line listening, which is especially rough for Touch owners, or jet-setting iPhone owners.
3) No more library. That $15 monthly subscription for unlimited song-listening is a small price to pay for a practically limitless catalog of music. But if you're like me and you tend to get stuck on the same 5-10 bands for months on end, it makes more sense (and is probably cheaper) to buy their albums from iTunes and then play those 100 or so songs on loop without worrying about your Internet connection or -- gasp! -- relying on inflight magazines to get you through your cross-country sojourn.