Ah yes, Apple does so many things well. The iCloud integration between iDevices works well. Photostream works well. iPhoto, Garageband and Keynote for iOS work well. Find my Phone works well. I could fill a few pages with lists of things Apple does well. What does not work well in my opinion is the iTunes Store. Here are 3 problems that Apple should fix and soon.
1. My iTunes should speak many languages
I want to be able to use the Austrian iTunes Store in English rather than in German, as the former is my mother tongue. This should be easy, right?
But no, it is not possible to customize languages for your local iTunes Store. This must be quite prohibitive for people who live in a country and do not speak the local language – like expats or temporary workers. Apple has a support page on this question, but explains quite officially that the countries have a preset language assigned to them.
We need to be able to customize languages in any iTunes Store of the world. This cannot be hard to do.
2. Gift cards for other country iTunes accounts
My sister got an iPad for her birthday 2 weeks ago and I thought I’d start her off well with a €20 gift card. I live in Austria and have the Austrian Store. She lives in Trinidad and has the Trinidad Store. This is should be an easy thing, right? Apple should have figured this out already, right?
As it turns out, the answer is “wrong“. I navigated over the the “Buy iTunes Gifts“ link, got my options and chose a gift card to send by email. It took all of 2 minutes. But when she got it we noticed my error. It did not work for her.
Only in the very fine print is it mentioned that gift cards and coupons are only available in the Austrian store. Nowhere during the purchasing process was I informed of this. Talk about MAJOR FAIL!
Gift my sister something from iTunes? It turns out, it’s Just Not Possible. Of course I know that Apple does not “want“ people to have accounts for different country stores and control this by requiring a credit card with residency in the country in question. But what I did not know that it is not even possible to gift someone from another country.
What we need is, quite simply, a way to gift someone from another country – international gift cards.
3. International iTunes Accounts
So there I was – €20 short and still no gift card for my sister. Then I had an idea. Why not ask for her access to the Trinidad Store and see if it were possible to gift her a card using my credit card details. This should be possible, right? Apple should offer this, right?
It was then I discovered not all stores are created equal. When I logged onto her account and entered the Trinidad Store for the first time, there was no option to gift anything. Indeed the Store is quite bare, compared to the Austrian or US Store. No music, no movies, no TV shows. Just Apps, Books, Podcasts. And most importntly – no gifts. It is not even possible to gift my sister something from her own bloody Store. Come on Apple, this is 2012. I realize it’s tough to negotiate licensing agreements with hundreds of countries but really? No music, no movies and no darn gifts? See the iTunes Store pages for Austria, U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago below:
What we need are inter-country or International iTunes accounts. I want to be able to legally and freely access content available elsewhere and download them for myself. And I want to be able to buy a gift for my sister from her own store, using my credit card details. It can’t be that hard.
The situation being described as above, I resorted to something Apple definitely would not condone but which we practice anyway, especially between my husband and myself. We simply use one iTunes account connected to my credit card for purchases. I sent my sister my access details, she logged on to the Austrian Store, redeemed the gift card and started downloading things she was interested in.
This was a double blessing in a sense. I did not have to ask for a refund for the gift card I had bought but which was useless, it was back onto my iTunes account. And in the bargain she got access to the many hundreds of free and payable apps that I have already downloaded. I intend to allow her to download until the €20 are spent, then I will change my password.
What bothers me is that I had to find a very roundabout solution to what was essentially a very easy task.
And it bothers me that 11 years after its introduction, iTunes still does not have an elegant and easy solution to the above problems. Here’s to hoping that among the things Apple has in store for this year that will “blow our minds“ will include some long awaited innovation to the iTunes Store.
What would you like to see fixed in the iTunes Store?