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This morning I found out that one of my favourite artists had released a new album (Megan Washington in case you were wondering!) so I jumped onto iTunes to purchase.

“I’m sorry – that item is only available on the Australian iTunes service.”

I am Australian but I now live in the UK. My iTunes account is a UK-based one. I no longer have an Australian iTunes account as to have an account, it needs to be linked to an Australian Credit Card – something I also no longer have.

So I can’t purchase this album. Who wins in this scenario then? Who benefits from this process?

  • Not me – I didn’t get to buy the album.
  • Not Apple – they didn’t get my money (and now I like them a little less).
  • Not Megan Washington – she’s didn’t get to sell another album.

It’s tough to see why this process exists. No ones wins in this scenario. Is it likely that people will want to purchase music from other countries? Of course it is. So why restrict the databases that hold the music (that’s all they really are) based on country of origin? It also can’t be very difficult to fix.

It’s such an obviously bad process that I feel like I must be missing something.

The only thing I could think of was that the artist didn’t want it released in the UK yet as maybe they wanted to time the release with a tour in the UK… or something.

But if that’s the case, haven’t we all learned by now that restricting or delaying content actually drives piracy, rather than combats it? This is something well understood by TV and Film – the delay for shows or movies being released in other countries tend to be less than a day now.

I love Apple – especially their products. Their relentless pursuit of a simple and effective customer experience is one of the things that give them their competitive edge.

But iTunes is a real chink in their armour when it comes to Customer Experience. It’s terrible. It’s clunky. It’s resource hungry. It’s not intuitive to use. I don’t know anyone who speaks highly of it – even devout Apple disciples seem to hate it.

It’s yet another example of poor process decisions creating a poor customer experience and in this instance, costing the company a lost sale.

Fortunately, I’m off to Australia later this year, so I’m going to go old school and buy an actual physical CD (which I’ll then burn onto my iTunes).

Better be a good album dammit!

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