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Once upon a time you only needed an AppleID for the iTunes store and MobileMe, important to some but not all. Now, with IOS apps, the Mac App Store, a download-only OS and who knows what in the iCloud, it is becoming increasingly important, practically the cornerstone of every customer’s life in the Apple eco-system. Unfortunately, the AppleID system reflects the “America only” thinking of many US companies. Take my own case as an example.

In 2004, when the UK iTunes store opened, I created my first AppleID, even though I live in The Netherlands because, as a Brit, I wanted to download music from British artists. In 2009 I bought an iPhone so wanted some Dutch apps, e.g. a public transport planner, alongside my English language apps. At first I switched countries every time, re-entering the relevant address and bank details, but this quickly became pretty tedious, especially as you cannot update an app unless you are signed in to the store you bought it from. To simplify switching I created a second AppleID to use for Dutch purchases, including from the online Apple Store.

Also, by using a second ID I have given myself a potential problem in the future because Apple does not allow you to merge accounts. That means if I ever move back to the UK I cannot consolidate all my purchases into a single AppleID.

Now I realise that this is not a problem for most people but it is estimated that over 4 million Britons live or work abroad. Add the number of foreigners living in the UK and multiply that by many countries and you will see that there are a lot of people who are potentially affected by this.

Of course, the root of the problem is the music & film industries’ attempts to control rights. It is ridiculous that anyone in The Netherlands can order a CD from Amazon UK but you can only use the iTunes store if you have a British bank account. It seems to me that the latter contravenes European free trade rules.

I do not object to DRM restrictions per se but I do expect them to accommodate reasonable real world usage. Apple should be making life easier for it’s customers rather than dancing to the music industry’s tune.