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Nov 19

I just noticed something in iTunes 9 which I’m sure has been there in previous versions. But since it was new to me, it might be new to a few of you as well.

At the bottom of the top-level pages in the iTunes Store there is a collection of text links. The last link in the last column is called Change Country. When you click on that link you get to select a country from a large list. After you click on a country you will now be viewing the iTunes Store for that country.

Why is this useful for iPhone developers?

  • You can see the ranking of your apps in other countries.
  • You can see which apps are most popular in other countries.
  • You can read reviews of your apps from other countries.
  • You can see which apps have localized app descriptions.

At the bottom right corner of the top-level iTunes Store pages there is a round flag icon that indicates which country store you are currently in. Clicking on this icon has the same function as clicking on the Change Country link. This can be useful to know since the Change Country link is often localized to the language of country you’re viewing. So it’s not always easy to know which text link to click to get back to a language you can read…

Some interesting observations:

  • The iTunes Store is available in 76 countries. The iPhone is available in 86 countries. Does that mean people in 10 countries do not have access to the App Store? I’m guessing that countries like French West Indies, Reunion Island and U.S. Virgin Islands where the iPhone is available, use their “parent” country’s iTunes Store. Can any of my international readers confirm this?
  • The App Store top lists, New & Noteworthy, What’s Hot and Staff Favorites are all unique to each country store.
  • The top lists in music are much more homogeneous than the App Store lists. I guess the music labels still have some global marketing clout. Who is going to take on this role for apps?
  • The iTunes Store only has 7 official languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish. So you will only see app descriptions in these languages. (The iTunes UI is localized to many more languages than these.)
  • There is an exception to the rule of app descriptions in only 7 languages. If you have an app that is only available in your own language (not English) you can write the app description in that language in the place of English in iTunes Connect, and then only make the app available in your country’s App Store.
  • You cannot login to a foreign iTunes Store with your existing iTunes account. Therefore you cannot purchase apps or write reviews. (It is possible to create an iTunes account without a credit card. This also works after you select a foreign country. But in order to purchase anything you need to have a valid billing address in that country. So the utility of this technique is limited.)

Did you know about this iTunes feature already? What have you used it for?

written by Nick \\ tags: ,

26 Responses to “iTunes Quick Tip: Change Country”

  1. Yury Says:

    No, you don’t need billing address. I live in Canada, but what to shop in American AppStore. Unfortunately they don’t accept foreign visas for this purpose. So, I’ve drove over and bought a gift card for fifty iTunes-dollars. Works like a charm :-)

  2. Nick Says:

    @Yury: Yes it’s true that you can use iTunes gift cards to purchase items without a local billing address. But iTunes gift cards are tied to a specific country store, so you can’t buy a gift card in Canada and then use it in iTunes Japan.

  3. Drapes Says:

    I live between the UK and NZ and have credit cards for both countries. I usually use the store of the country I’m currently living/earning in but often change to get music unavailable in one store.

    This feature has been here for a while, I’d guess since NZ got it’s own store, ‘05-’06. Probably earlier

  4. Andrei Says:

    Bulgaria is one of the countries where the iPhone is officially available for more than 2 years but there is no Bulgarian iTunes Store. There is no “parent country” either. Bulgarian credit cards are accepted for Romanian iTunes store. In fact, the Romanian store has no music at all, so it is quite possible that the stores with no music don’t perform credit card originating country verification. The store operates in English so it’s generally OK. The downside is that there is a fare number of applications (including free ones) which are not available in the Romanian store.

  5. Nick Says:

    @Andrei: Thanks for the Bulgarian perspective!

    I wonder why there are many apps that are not available in Romania/Bulgaria. As a developer you have to make an extra effort to restrict app sales to specific countries. The default (just one button click) is to make the app available world wide. Any developers out there who have restricted their app sales by country and would like to share their reasoning?

  6. Corey Says:

    Definitely did not know about some of those “Interesting Observations”, good to know for sure! Cheers

  7. rob bezzi Says:

    Does anybody know why one cannot buy applications outside his country of residence? I think it’s pretty stupid. Is it arbitrary or is there a reason?

  8. Nick Says:

    @rob: If you could buy applications from any country’s store, that would defeat the purpose of having separate country specific iTunes stores. Since Apple has spent a lot of time and money building the iTunes infrastructure for different countries, I cannot imagine that this was an arbitrary decision. I can see several reasons why you would want to limit distribution of content and apps by country: licensing, support, local laws restricting certain content.

  9. Vitepi Says:

    Here in Peru we have iphones but the Itunes store in not available. Its really annoying not to be able to use it because I cant even enter into the application when im using my iphone, it just blocks and says it is not available in my country. Do you have a solution for this?

  10. Nick Says:

    @Vitepi: You may be able to get an iTunes gift certificate for the U.S. store and use that to purchase apps. This should work technically, but I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know if it’s legal to do this in your country.

  11. Adriana Says:

    I am new to iTunes, but we bought iTouch because we want our kids to watch movies, listen to music…. when we travel to US and elsewhere. It was great for our friends kids on a plane as they all watch movies and listened to books, etc… but we are expats living in Hong Kong. We did not realized that you can’t buy from US store?!? We moved to Hong Kong several years ago so our credit cards are local Hong Kong cards. And we have no access to any US books, or movies. I feel we were cheated and our kids can not watch any movies on their iTouch. I feel it is stupid and restrictive, and the store should at least have some entertainment, music or movies, otherwise why have it?

  12. Nick Says:

    @Adriana: It is mostly the music and entertainment companies that are stupid and restrictive. They put the restrictions on what can be sold in each country. (Region coding of DVDs is another artifact of this.) In some cases you can get around some of the restrictions by purchasing iTunes gift cards from the country where you want to purchase entertainment from.

  13. Jairo Says:

    I have a Colombian account at iTunes Store and I have a Colombian VISA credit card. iTunes won’t sell anything to me except for the free apps. I have to buy my books at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble. To me it’s stupid thay Apple don’t sell but Amazon and Barnes & Noble do. Fortunately I have the Kindle App and the Nook App in my iPad. But now that I have learned the hard way, I have decided never to buy Apple products again. I will make sure that the next tablet I buy won’t have any restrictions to my country.

  14. Chris Says:

    Further to country restriction. We have developed a fitness program and live in Australia. We sell globally but do not ship into the United States of America & Canada and their respective territories & protectorates. This is only because of the high insurance costs we would have to carry.

    As I read the above conversations it seems I can restrict it so that no one in the the above cited countries can purchase (unless they bought an Australia iTunes gift card?)? Our main o/s markets are UK, South Africa and New Zealand and of course Australia.

    Thanks

  15. Chris Says:

    This seems to confirm I was correct?
    https://itunesconnect.apple.com/docs/iTunesConnect_DeveloperGuide.pdf

  16. Nick Says:

    @Chris: When you upload your app to iTunes Connect you can select which markets you want the app to for sale in. The default is world wide. But you can exclude the U.S. if you want.

  17. Ben Says:

    I’d like to buy content in German to help teach my child another language. Live in us though. Is there any way around all these restrictions. The us store has limited to no German content at all. How can I buy. From the German store?

  18. Nick Says:

    @Ben: Unfortunately I don’t know how to do that.

  19. Muchi Says:

    I’m a Swiss expat, living in Cuba. I can access the iTunes store in US, but I can’t use it, because the want to be paid by a US bank account. I have a Paypal account, but this is not accepted because I don’t fund it with a US bank account. What’s that for?

    Nobody in this forum thinks about the link between an IP and a specific Apple Store. Can I influence this link?
    M

  20. Captain Anegada Says:

    My wife and I are US Expats in the British Virgin Islands. Because our US Credit Card (VISA) has our BVI PO Box as a billing address, we can no longer purchase at the iTunes Store. Any way around this? The BVI iTunes Store does not offer music at all and we dont purchase apps.

  21. Nick Says:

    @Captain Anegada: I think you should be able to use an iTunes gift card from the U.S. and make purchases in the U.S. iTunes Store regardless of which country you’re physically in.

  22. iOancea Says:

    How do I change my country in iTunes when I have money left on the account? There’s something like 73 cents left, which I can’t spend, and iTunes won’t let me change my country until it’s spent.
    Any ideas?

  23. Alex Says:

    @IOancea
    I also will soon have the same problem. :)
    You can contact the apple express lane from support in apple.com. I’ve used it and always have gotten good responses…

  24. anna Says:

    i live in england and would like to buy a £25 itunes card for my sister in italy im wondering if it will work for her to buy music with it. Any idea any one?

  25. phoebe Says:

    Hey,OK. i have a HUGE problem.. my iPod suddenly thinks it’s in germany… and it’s stuffing up my clock and apps.. What do i do?

  26. Alice Says:

    Yea but. What about on a iPod

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