∞ Next up for Apple, Rhapsody's iPhone music app

Apple executives were probably hoping for a little break from the spotlight, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Word came on Monday that RealNetworks is going to submit its Rhapsody iPhone app to Apple for approval. Rhapsody Music StoreRhapsody for iPhone will reportedly allow users of the company’s music subscription service to play music over Wi-Fi or the data network. Users can search for songs, use current playlists or make new ones.

Here’s the good part for Apple: if you want to purchase a song while browsing Rhapsody, a link will take you to iTunes.

Rhapsody’s vice president of business management, Neil Smith, said he expects the app to be approved. He said Apple told him to “Submit it and see what happens.”

If this happened even two months ago, I would say there was no way that Apple would ever approve Rhapsody. Apple typically doesn’t approve apps that it says duplicate the functionality of the iPhone, which in this case also means the iPod.

Rhapsody clearly falls into this category.

However, Apple is up against the ropes right now. Its problems with Google’s Voice app and the pending investigation by the FCC may make Apple a little gun shy.

This is going to be a tough one for Apple. If they allow Rhapsody, they will no doubt open the flood gates for any other company that wants to submit a similar type of app to the store.

If they reject the app, they risk the cries of protecting a monopoly and perhaps further investigations.

Apple has been very protective of its iPod and music service over the years. First protecting it from RealNetworks when it hacked into the iPod’s DRM system and most recently against Palm.

Whatever Apple does, it’s going to be interesting.