Just last week, we were talking about Rhapsody’s music subscription service on the iPhone. Looks like the application is still pending, since I don’t see an approval yet and the company hasn’t mentioned a rejection. Now Napster is getting in the game by adding subscription access at http://m.napster.com. The wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy launched a new mobile site in the U.S. that works with any carrier. It looks pretty good on my Palm Pre, although I don’t have a Napster account to try it out. Tapping a song preview caused an error as well, so perhaps my Pre isn’t the best candidate for this service. From what I can see, iPhone owners can only use Napster’s mobile site to initiate a purchase — they can’t stream music through the browser and Napster’s iPhone app hasn’t been submitted yet.
Up to now, Napster’s music service for mobiles was available solely on certain handsets through AT&T, but now just about any U.S. phone with a browser can stream preview or purchase music from Napster’s catalog of over nine million tracks. Subscribers get five MP3 downloads per month as part of the base plan, although on some phones — the iPhone, in particular — these and other purchased songs are sent directly to a computer as Apple doesn’t allow for 3rd party song downloads. Best Buy is wisely leveraging the Napster brand with this news. Any contract phone purchase made at Best Buy this month will include a $15 Napster credit — good for three free months of music subscription and 15 included MP3 downloads.
Update: I received clarification from Napster indicating that you can only preview or purchase music from your handset. You can’t stream tracks to your phone through the new mobile site. Post is updated accordingly.