Rhapsody brings offline playback to the iPhone

Rhapsody has stolen a march on the competition with the launch of a new version of its iPhone app adding offline playback.

While Spotify provides a similar service in Europe, this is the first iPhone app in the US to allow subscription music to be downloaded to the iPhone.

“Today marks a turning point for Rhapsody and subscription music,” said Jon Irwin, Rhapsody’s president. “By making Rhapsody accessible anywhere people want to hear music – and not just the places where they have an Internet connection – we’re giving music lovers a new way to discover and enjoy music on the devices they love.”

Version 2.0 of Rhapsody – available free from the Apple App Store – allows subscribers to stream and download music from Rhapsody’s catalog of over nine million songs, listen to internet radio, and create and access playlists.

In the coming months, Rhapsody will add the ability to download individual songs and albums in addition to playlists.

Using the app requires a Rhapsody subscription, either to the $10-per-month Rhapsody Premier offering for a single device, or to the $14.99 Rhapsody Premier Plus plan, which lets people access the service on up to three mobile devices.

Forrester Research predicts that over the next four years the number of people subscribing to services like Rhapsody will double to more than five million, up from approximately 2.1 million today. Wireless subscribers will be one of the major drivers for that growth, it says.