RealNetworks is launching the new Rhapsody service with technology from Microsoft. Rather than paying about $1 a track on iTunes to own the song, users of Rhapsody will essentially be able to rent everything available over the service for about $15 a month, and transfer their tunes to portable devices in a way that is just as easy as iTunes, with full compatibility with devices from Creative, iRiver and Samsung.
The biggest benefit of Rhapsody is that you can play it on any PC that has the software. You're not tethered to your own computer to enjoy the music. On the downside, this service doesn't support Macs.
Rhapsody is a compelling option, especially for those college-goers who travel back home without their PCs during the school year, but don't own a device to carry their music around.
Analysts are however not convinced that Real has put enough effort into distinguishing the service from others in the same market, and that it will have to work hard to win customers.