Version 2.0 of the application, which was first launched on Apple's App Store last September, is the first streaming music service in the United States to allow subscribers to store music for listening without an Internet connection. The feature initially applies only to play lists, not to individual albums. Offline caching of songs and albums will be added in the coming months, Rhapsody said.
Before the update, Rhapsody subscribers needed an Internet connection to listen to music. "Today marks a turning point for Rhapsody and subscription music," Rhapsody President Jon Irwin said in a statement.
The Rhapsody app provides access to a catalog of more than 9 million songs. Users can listen to albums, create their own play lists or listen to continuous streaming of music genres. The app lets people buy songs from Apple's iTunes Store.
Rhapsody offers the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad app free and charges $10 a month for accessing the service on one mobile device. A premium service provides access on up to three mobile devices for $15 a month.
Rhapsody launched this month a mobile application for phones running Google's Android platform. The company plans to offer an application for Research in Motion's BlackBerry smartphone this summer.
RealNetworks is the majority owner of Rhapsody, which is also partly owned by MTV. RealNetworks spun off Rhapsody this year into a standalone company. The parent company bought the service, formerly Listen.com, in 2003 for $36 million.
Music subscription services have failed to catch on with consumers, which have flocked to buy-to-own services, such as Apple's iTunes Store. Apple has become the largest music seller in the U.S.
The number of subscriptions to Rhapsody have stood at about 700,000 after peaking at 800,000 in the first quarter of 2009, according to a recent report in The Seattle Times. Quoting Forrester Research, Rhapsody claims the number of people subscribing to music services in general will double to more than 5 million by 2004 from 2.1 million today, driven mostly by wireless subscribers.