Please read carefully and patiently to understand this mess. It explains why the situation is a cluster.
In 2003, Apple launched iTunes and with it introduced iTunes Accounts. With an iTunes account you simply needed a username and password and you could purchase any of the 200,000 items for sale at the time.
I created a username: bacon ( hypothetical )
And associated it with my Yahoo email address.
In 2002, Apple launched the .Mac service to replace iTools. I waited and decided to sign up in 2006.
So now, I have firstname.lastname@example.org for email. ( hypothetical )
All is well, I update my iTunes email account to be my Dot Mac email address. My receipts get emailed to there. In iTunes, I continue to sign on with my username “bacon”.
In the summer of 2007, iPhone is introduced. Got my very first iPhone, used Dot Mac with it, sync it with iTunes for my music, and no worries.
Two years later, 2008, Apple relaunches .Mac as Mobile Me. Service is $99 a year. They announce a new iPhone 3G. And great, so now my email address is email@example.com. I update my Mail program, buy the new iPhone, and keep syncing with iTunes for my music. Still not too bad.
This is where some of the bump in the road comes from. Apple introduces the Mobile Me Family pack. For, I believe it was, $129 at the time. You could have 5 family members have their own @me.com email addresses. Great, except those family members were creating iTunes accounts with their @me email as their username.
Around this time, iTunes no longer allowed you to use a username such as “bacon”. Choose an email address as your username. What did most choose? Mobile Me.
Apple, in 2011, decides to sunset Mobile Me and convert it into a new service now known as iCloud. They drop the $99 yearly price tag. It is introduced as a free 5GB service. Additional storage can be purchased.
iCloud is a new type of service. Cloud sync.
It may have elements of its predecessors but it is different than iTools, Dot Mac, or Mobile Me. It erases the past services and introduces only one new service: cloud based sync and transparent storage.
[ For more see my post, Apple’s Vision for iCloud. ]
Okay, so this is where it really begins to snowball. And the part where most of us get frustrated to no end. What is an Apple ID? Well Apple themselves describe it as:
An Apple ID is a user name you use for everything you do with Apple. Creating an account for an Apple service, such as the iTunes Store or the App Store, creates an Apple ID. Apple ID allows you to access other Apple services. You don’t have to create a new account for each service—just use your Apple ID.
So for many people, they already had Apple IDs and had no idea. When Apple ID created the “one username to rule them all” system they didn’t proactively tell people that is what they are doing.
What is an Apple ID?
You don’t have to create a new account for each service—just use your Apple ID.
But what if I already did? Apple accounts existed before Apple ID was even created.
That is the breakdown.
Not much really. A few scenarios to help you out:
❏ Have an iTunes Account and an “iCloud/Apple ID Account for Sync and Email”? You can use both.
❏ Want to merge multiple Apple IDs? You can’t. Give Apple feedback. Explain how the system is broken.
Apple IDs cannot be merged. You should use your preferred Apple ID from now on, but you can still access your purchased items such as music, movies, or software using your other Apple IDs.
❏ I have more than one Apple ID, iTunes Account, for music purchases and want to sync everything to my iDevice, can I? Yes, but only through iTunes. You will have to authorize iTunes for each account.
❏ Can I use iTunes Match and iCloud with two different accounts? Yes. See my post.
For those fortunate enough to have just begun their Apple experience, or those who want to start “fresh”, do the following:
One ID to rule them all.