Apple Beware: RealNetworks, MTV and Verizon Wireless Create 'Rhapsody America'

Dennis Faas's picture

In an effort to lure thousands of music fans away from Apple, RealNetworks has teamed with MTV Networks and Verizon Wireless to offer a digital music joint venture expected to rival iTunes, the iPod and even the new iPhone.

The three companies plan to implement their technological takeover by making the MTV "Urge" music downloading service compatible with RealNetworks Rhapsody streaming software programs. While the merger will be made available to all U.S. customers via their PC music players, Verizon Wireless' VCast multimedia service will also be equipped with the new music system on their cell phones. (Source:

The joint venture has been given the official title "Rhapsody America". MTV is expected to begin a huge marketing campaign to entice potential consumers beginning in the first few weeks of September.

While three companies are officially working together on the project, Rhapsody America will hardly be an equal venture. RealNetworks will own the majority of the new service, while MTV is said to have a "substantial" share in the project. Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications Inc, has been given an exclusive long-term deal from the other two companies. (Source:

Those who have already subscribed to MTV Urge will eventually be incorporated into the Rhapsody America system over time. For now, all Urge customers will have access to both the standard Urge system and the new Rhapsody America system, giving them the option to experience both models.

All three companies declined to reveal just how much the new Rhapsody America system will cost. The current Rhapsody service charges subscribers $12.99 a month for unlimited listening and sells individual tracks for 99 cents. (Source:

While the new venture is expected to generate a considerable amount of attention from the media, many industry analysts believe that talks of rivalling Apple are a tad overzealous. RealNetworks and MTV have fired back at these claims, saying that their ability to rival Apple will come with the addition of Verizon Wireless.

The current iPhone model boasts eight gigabytes of storage space and Verizon expects that they too will soon create a new model that will offer the same amount of storage space by the end of the year. (Source:

Verizon also believes that cell phones with sixteen gigabytes of storage space should be ready to market by mid-2008. These new cell phones have also been hinted to include over-the-air downloads of songs straight to cell phones.

Analysts believe that Verizon should master the eight gigabyte model before there are any talks of a future sixteen gigabyte model.

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