The approval of spotify is a sign of change at Apple

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller has made it his personal mission to fix the iPhone's App Store.  Phil Shoemaker, Apple’s Director of Application Technology is also playing a hand.  Why would the top brass at a company like Apple be having to work so hard to "fix" a wildly successful marketplace that sold over a billion apps?  It boils down to one thing -- perception.

Apple has consistently shown inconsistency, approving usenet applications designed to assist in filesharing, while rejecting others that monitor your torrent client.  Likewise it rejected Google Voice, while approving a similar app from VoIP service Vonage.  Still other controversial apps -- like the infamous "Babyshaker" app -- it approved only to later reject.  However, there are some signs that Apple may finally be loosening up when it comes to its app store censorship.

This week Apple approved Spotify Mobile, a European music download service's application.  The app will compete directly with iTunes in digital music sales.

In the past, Apple forbade most applications that competed with the handful of applications it offers for the iPhone.  It relaxed this restriction slightly, recently allowing rival web browsers -- but only those based on WebKit, the rendering engine Apple's Safari browser uses.

For those interested, Spotify offers 6 million songs on-demand for $16.  You can stream songs to your phone, or download songs to listen to when offline.  You can even create and manage playlists in your account. 

Real Networks is currently working on a similar app for its own Rhapsody music subscription service.  It hopes its own app shares the same happy fate as Spotify.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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