Dear Apple – may we pay?

Update (Feb 7): Updated the estimated number of iPhones in Iceland in light of more reliable data.

As stated before: I live in a small country, nobody wants my money.

In the couple of years since I wrote that post, I’ve been watching in awe as my fellow Icelanders – and in fact a lot of people all over the world – have been going to great lengths to pay Apple money for products that are not supported here.

The two main products in question are iTunes credits and the iPhone.

  • iTunes: Iceland is not an iTunes country, and after the ongoing row with the Norwegians, I’ve heard that Apple is even more reluctant than before in entering more markets. This comes down to licenses and slight variations in the way laws are structured and the way the RIAA counterparts in each country interprets them and acts on the behalf of rightholders. With the wealth of illegal alternatives out there, one would assume that people would just ignore iTunes and use some of the P2P programs.

    But – no – Apple has done so well in the marketing and implementation of the iTunes / iPod ecosystem that Icelanders are going to great lengths to buy songs in the iTunes store anyway. The two most used methods are:

    1. registering a secondary address for your credit card in the US, then sign up for a PayPal account with that same address and use that PayPal account as a payment method in iTunes
    2. buying prepaid iTunes credit from online stores such as iTuneShop or even eBay.

    The interesting thing is that a song that you buy this way is just as illegal under Icelandic law as the one you’d download using a P2P program. Apple has no right to sell songs in Iceland and the song you bought is at best licensed to you in the markets were iTunes operates. Strictly, it might even only be licensed for you to listen to it in the US!

  • iPhone: This is the same story as elsewhere in the world. People here are buying the phones abroad, bringing them in and then finding various ways to make them work. An educated guesstimate would be that there are somewhere north of 500 1400 iPhones already in the Icelandic market. That could be as much as 1% is around 2% of the entire handset market here in the 7 months since the phone was launched in the US! All of these phones are bought full price, but obviously Apple is not getting their share in the mobile subscriptions and data revenues.

Of course, the sales of these two products in this tiny market alone doesn’t matter at all to Apple’s bottom line. The lesson here is that when people are going to great lengths to overcome your obstacles and pay you money, you must be doing something right.

On the other hand when you’re making obstacles for people that would happily pay you in the first place, you must be doing something wrong.

So: Dear Apple – may we pay?

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