Apple's Singapore iTunes Store – you charging US$?

I got the iPod Touch couple of days back and started grabbing apps from Singapore’s iTunes AppStore, the same one that I switched over from the US account. The main reason why I switched over to the SG account is so I can use my credit card to purchase instead of the round-about way of getting iTunes Gift Cards. Another reason is that with the SG AppStore, we assumed that the pricing will be Singapore Dollars and thus we won’t be affected by any changes in the exchange rate.

Boy did I assume wrongly.

Here’s an example of an app listed on the SG AppStore

Note the pricing. At no part of the store page were there any mention of pricing or currency, not even on the Store Terms and Conditions Page.

Likewise the receipt that one received from Apple

So when I checked my credit card bill today, I found that I was charged US$2.99 instead of SG$, incurring the final cost of S$4.50.

Though the price is not high, Apple should be more forthright in how the pricing is displayed on the AppStore and also on the receipts that they sent out. They need to know that their customers are NOT just from the USA!

A quick look around various stores in different countries around the region are all like SG, just have the $ in front of the price, whereas in UK and France, they are using UK Pounds and Euros respectively.

I am actually quite surprised no one actually made any noise about it. Imagine the shock when someone’s parent look at their CC bill to find tons of US$ billings for apps bought by their kids!

Called Apple earlier and all they can say is that they are in US$ and will be switched to the SG$ in the future. And that was after a few minutes of discussion with his colleagues. For surprising was that in HWZ, a user there posted an email he received from a Apple rep that stated that:

Each country as its own currency. Only the US Store is in US currency. Your Singapore Store with be in Singapore currency.

So is Apple pulling a fast one on their customers around the world with this pricing display?

Nike+ Human Race # 0766519

That’s me number for the Nike Human Race later today in town. Haven’t done much running since the RT ended a month back, it will be … fun aka torture for me.

Just to make it more enjoyable, I’ve prepared my iPod with a list of songs that will make the run more enjoyable. From Muse to The Killers to DragonForce U2…there will be songs that will hopefully pump me up to last the 10km. I’ll also have my Nike+ iPod sensor ready to record the run…I can imagine there will be lots of flat lines…:D

See you after the race!

An Open Letter to Starhub – Dear Sparky

Hope you are well. The last we saw you, you and your doggy pals were going up a private jet to some place for a lengthy holiday with your owners. Fancy that right, after swallowing a mobile phone years ago, you have pretty much stepped up, even flying on Lear jets with your owners.

Since your trip, many things have happened. For example, people now can switch their telco operators from one to another without changing their numbers with a fancy name called number portability. Although it isn’t perfect, some people have jumped camp between GREEN, RED or ORANGE.

Also, wherever you happen to fly to with your owners, I am sure you would have notice this new phone that has been making waves over the past year. You know, from the fruit company that many loves and many more hate, called the iPhone. Its a phone which is unlike any other phones you have seen and it is one that is changing the way phones are being used. But I am sure you would have heard and seen enough to know that.

RED somehow managed to get a head start over you and ORANGE to launch the phone last week. The launch was quite a blast with their shop tied with a giant pink ribbon and thousands appeared just to grab the phone, even if it took them 6 hours or more waiting. I know because I was there. However, the price plans they offered on first sight, was decent but not superbly attractive, especially the part about data.

Basically it wasn’t good enough for me to switch camp. I have been Greenie for years and I would still want to stay Green. Just being able to watch soccer matches on my mobile for free makes it all worthwhile!

Since the launch, I have friends and colleagues who have taken up the offer and gotten their iPhones. It looks good. I played with their phones and it really felt good in my hands. I even spent time helping my colleague set up their phones and install apps. It was pretty easy out of the box. How many phones can you use out of the box without a manual?

My friends know that I have wanted the iPhone since it was launched last year. I even started downloading apps from my iTunes account so that I am prepared. Prepared for what?

Sparky, I am hoping that what your owners said to the press is true, that you will bring the phone by the end of this year. It’s almost September and only three months till Christmas.

Christmas, you know, the time when people gives presents to each other? I am sure you get doggy biscuits or some new leash to wear on your neck for Christmas. I will be over the moon if I can get the iPhone before Christmas.

I am sure your owners will begin talks with the people from the fruit company and considering that the phone will definitely be the best seller for some time, your owners will definitely want a piece of this pie before they start jumping to the RED camp.

I know they have been busy, like launching Demand TV, putting up trials for the Mobile TV or maybe it was the recently concluded Olympics…but can you just give them a little nudge and make them do that a wee bit faster?

Furthermore, it will also give you another excuse to be on TV and the papers. Fancy eating an Apple soon Sparky?

( updated title to hopefully get more coverage )

The iPhone is here, but I am not getting it

After such a long wait, the phone will be launched this Friday morning – 12.00am to be exact by SingTel. However, I am not getting it. YET. As much as I’d want to get the iPhone, the packages offered by SingTel are not attractive enough for me to drop Starhub and switch, losing the discounts on the various services I am rewarded for being a Starhub Hubber (Broadband, Cable TV and Mobile).

What irks me is the apparent lack of understanding of how the iPhone will change the usage patterns of people when they start exploring the features and the apps available on the iTune Store.

When the iPhone 3G had its worldwide launch on July 11, much grievances were at the lack of affordable data plans offered by telcos. A classic example would be Rogers from Canada.

Looks like SingTel does its maths with the same calculator. During launch period, the iFlexi plans offers 1-3GB of bandwidth per month, but this bandwidth will be reduced after the initial launch period.

In TODAY, they explained why they never offer an unlimited data package:

SingTel spokesman said the telco does not see a need to offer a plan with an unlimited amount of data. It is consistent with market offerings. Users are chalking up less than 100MB of data a month. A majority has single-digit usage.

Yes that is true in the pre-iPhone era where phones have small screen sizes and most apps had less than stellar performance when hooked onto the net. But with iPhones, just looking at the defaults apps available, being online is one major feature of the iPhone.

Yes there is Wireless@SG but time and time again, the WIFI provided has been sporadic in its uptime. Furthermore, you need to login every time you want to use it (auto-logoff after a short period of inactivity) makes it a pain with the iPhone.

So even though I’ve waited more than a year to get the iPhone, it will not be in my hand come this Friday. I do hope Starhub don’t screw me up by offering a worse deal than what SingTel already had. I will really turn green…

Apple says sorry

Apple sent an email out to all MobileMe today to explain and apologise for the furore over a few issues that happened over the past few days since the launch.

Firstly it was the state of the new MobileMe service.

Although core services such as Mail, iDisk, Sync, Back to My Mac, and Gallery went relatively smoothly, the new MobileMe web applications had lots of problems initially. Fortunately we have worked through those problems and the web apps are now up and running.

But the bigger issue was how pushy was the MobileMe’s push feature? Apparently not much.

While all email, contact or calendar changes on the iPhone and the web apps are immediately synced to and from the MobileMe “cloud,” changes made on a PC or Mac take up to 15 minutes to sync with the cloud and your other devices. So even though things are indeed instantly pushed to and from your iPhone and the web apps today, we are going to stop using the word “push” until it is near-instant on PCs and Macs, too.

So much for Phil Schiller’s explanation of MobileMe during the Keynote at this year’s WWDC. But the silver lining is that giving us full “push” functionality shouldn’t be that far off. Another case of Marketing pushing the envelope without consulting the TechHeads? We probably wouldn’t know.

So to appease the pitchfork holding Mac fans, Apple throws in a full month’s worth of MobileMe to all existing customers.

We want to apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension their MobileMe subscription free of charge. Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks.

On one hand, its disappointing for Apple not to map out their infrastructure to counter the sudden increased in demand for the services on the launch day, it is heartening to know that the company does listen to the fans and react fast to acknowledge its deficiency and work on solving them. Bonus point for the 30-day extension.

On hindsight, I’m also glad that Singapore wasn’t in the first batch of countries getting it. Besides Apple who should iron out their backend issues, 3rd party apps developers would also have sufficient time to roll out their .xx updates to their iPhone apps by the time SingTel sells the iPhone.

Maybe it’s a blessing afterall. BUT, I still want my iPhone, quickly!

More pratas for July 11th through July 12th

These are some interesting from the InterWeb for July 11th through July 12th:

iTunes Store switch country problem solved

Finally got to switch the iTunes store account to link to the SG store. This was after sending in a Support Email to Apple via this page – http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/store/browser/ … which was not easily located. Took them less than a day for them to respond to it but the caveat is that I lost my US$0.10 balance, a small price to pay at least.

Now, the wait is on for the iPhone 3G.

iPhone Store SG is live, but problems switching country

Just updated iTunes to version 7.7 which prepares everyone for the launch of iPhone 3G tomorrow. The store only has iPhone apps and games at the moment. Prices for games like Super Monkey Ball is going for $9.90 but at this time, I’m not sure whether its SG$ or US$.

I have an account for the US iTunes Store which has US$0.10 left in the balance and when I try to change the country the account is linked to to Singapore, I get this error which says because I have store credit balance, I must clear the balance before I can switch countries.

Dear Apple, please find me one US$0.10 track!

If anyone has an idea how I can change country for my account, do let me know as Apple Support is probably barricading themselves with the global launch of iPhone 3G, iPhone Store + MobileMe.

Another thing to note is that the SG store is an iPhone app store, and not an iTunes store – so we still don’t have music, movies and TVs to buy. Suck ass.