Apple opens the door for subscription-based iPhone streams

Apple just greenlighted Rhapsody's iPhone and iPod Touch app, which will allow users to stream any of the service's 8 million songs — for a price, and a heftier one than the App Store usually sees. In a land where sub-$5 apps are king, Rhapsody (which is unrelated to — but improved by — the album cover pictured above from the band of the same name) offers a free taste of the program for the first seven days, but after that customers have to shell out $14.99 to continue using it. It's "the first time Apple Inc. has allowed an on-demand music streaming program on its devices in the United States," according to the New York Times.

For the iTunes-entrenched Apple crowd which also enjoys several excellent Internet radio streams, such as Pandora, it sounds like a bit of a raw deal. The move is probably geared toward generating a bit more scratch by getting some of Rhapsody's 75,000 existing subscribers to upgrade to a mobile plan rather than pull in new users, as Rhapsody offers a $12.99 computer-only option, with no way before this to interact with the iPhone.

Neil Smith, vice president of business management for Rhapsody America, told the New York Times that the app will allow the company to ''reach the iPod Touch and iPhone audience that was unavailable to us before.''

As for Apple, there's a benefit to the company, as well. If someone likes a song they are listening to through Rhapsody's streaming service, they can easily purchase it on iTunes, both the music service and Apple splitting the service. That, and you can also craft your own playlists using Rhapsody, whereas Pandora and similar services are more of a crap shoot.

Via New York Times