multiple iTunes accounts mess

Beware, not all App Stores have the same apps


Published: Sat 21 Jan 2012, 9:48 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:54 AM

Apple presents iTunes as the digital music and media player and organiser, and for the most, part I’d agree with that. The thinking is simple enough. You live somewhere in the world so you sign up for an account for that area and you get access to content depending on that particular store. That means, in the example of UAE, that you only get to see apps and podcasts, no movies, TV, or music.

It may be an issue of Apple having to make deals with the holders of copyright in the Middle East, but in the end, it’s consumers just like you that lose out. No wonder that piracy rates are high in the region — if people can’t get access to buy what they want the legal way, they will find other ways to get it, and I can’t say I blame them.

But that’s really a topic for another day. In iTunes, you can fairly easily set up an account in a country different from the one you live in. In the application, on the iTunes Store page, you can click on the flag at the bottom right, then Sign In at the top right, and create your account. To be able to purchase content in that store, you will have to have a method of payment with a billing address there. So, for example, a US credit card to buy from the US store.

As frustrating as the limitations can be it’s nonetheless good that the possibility is there to open an iTunes in different markets. But I also have to put up a bit of a warning before you do that, especially if you’re going to get apps from different stores. And that’s something you may want to do because not all App Stores have the same apps.

The problem comes when you want to update apps. On your iPhone or iPad, you get a notice in the App Store app, but you don’t know which ones were downloaded or bought with which iTunes account. So you may start to download the updates, and in the middle of it, it will ask you to log in to another account to continue. Then it will say “this account is only valid in…” and the mess is hitting you with full force. And trying to download with your Mac doesn’t help; the same basic problem applies.

So my first advice would be to try to avoid having multiple iTunes accounts, at least for apps. But if you really can’t help yourself, be prepared for some tricky management issues. Although I can understand why Apple built it this way, I also don’t think it’s to the benefit of us as customers, and it’s a bit unlike Apple.

Usually the Cupertino gang comes up with solutions that are well integrated and smooth, so that we don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen or how something works. This is unfortunately not one of those situations. I sure hope Apple will improve on it in the future.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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