Rhapsody plays offense: iPhone app allows downloaded playlists

One of the original pioneers in streaming music is still making waves.

Rhapsody released a new version of its iPhone app that allows people to wirelessly download playlists to their iPhones, iPods or iPads and listening to them whenever — even if they don’t have an Internet connection.

The move comes just weeks after the company, which was revolutionary at the beginning of the decade for offering an all-you-can-eat subscription model, began life as an independent company after been spun-off from RealNetworks.

The ability to cache playlists is a much sought-after feature that hadn’t yet landed in the U.S. before. Berkeley-based competitor MOG plans to launch this feature on both Android devices and iPhones with a $10 a month subscription service in the second quarter of this year. The much-hyped Swedish startup Spotify offers this already. But sadly, it hasn’t been able to cross the pond from Europe.

Rhapsody recently launched its first Android app and is at work building one for Blackberry devices. The company’s app is free, but to download playlists, users will have to pay either $10 a month for access from a single device or $15 for access on up to three devices (think computer, phone and iPad).

The company was spun-off from Real Networks about three weeks ago. Real and Viacom each own about 47.5 percent of the company. Vivendi’s Universal Music Group also owns a small stake of under five percent.

Don’t miss MobileBeat 2010, VentureBeat’s conference on the future of mobile. The theme: “The year of the superphone and who will profit.” Now expanded to two days, MobileBeat 2010 will take place on July 12-13 at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Early-bird pricing is available until May 15. For complete conference details, or to apply for the MobileBeat Startup Competition, click here.

Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.