iTunes gift cardQUESTION: What are iTunes gift cards used for? – Marlene P. from Jacksonville, Texas

ANSWER: I have to admit, Marlene, that of all the gift cards you can buy these days, iTunes gift cards are the most confusing, mostly because of their name.

iTunes gift cards were originally created so people could buy music from Apple’s music store, known as the iTunes Store. These purchased songs could then be played on the buyer’s computer using the iTunes software or on his or her iPod (and eventually iPhone and iPad).

So the original purpose of an iTunes gift card was to gift music to someone. Like any other gift card, an iTunes gift card has a special sequence of numbers and letters that the recipient can use to redeem the card’s value in their own iTunes account and then purchase music using their new credit.

Along came the App Store

But then the App Store came along and iPod touch, iPhone and iPad users were suddenly able to spend their hard-earned cash on apps and not just music. Now if someone wanted to buy music they went to the iTunes Store and if they wanted apps they went to the App Store.

Presumably Apple didn’t want to create gift cards for both the iTunes Store and the App Store so they just stuck with the iTunes name. So with an iTunes gift card you can buy both music and apps. Actually to make it more confusing, you can also buy movies, television shows and ringtones which are also part of the iTunes Store.

I guess Apple didn’t like an all-encompassing name like Apple Bucks so we’re stuck with iTunes gift cards for a while. Just know that you can buy all of the digital goodness I described above using a single iTunes gift card.

Do you have a question for Mr. Noobie®? Submit your question here.

Patric Welch

Patric Welch founded Noobie, Inc. in 2006 to help others effectively choose and use technologies to enhance their work and lives. The catchy company name earned Welch the name of Mr. Noobie®, but, in reality, Welch is an experienced and professional techie. Unlike most techies, Welch evaluates emerging technologies from a noobie’s perspective and provides technology education for all skill levels in a friendly, non-threatening way.
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