I am posting this for the search engines to find, in case others have found themselves in this situation.
Google and Apple created situations where you ended up with multiple accounts that could not be merged together.
2000 – iTools
Apple introduces iTools, which included a free e-mail address “for life.” This service was renamed to .Mac in 2002, and later MobileMe in 2008. It was replaced by iCloud in 2012.
I signed up for my free @mac.com e-mail address back then, and still have that original e-mail address. I never used that e-mail, since I had been using the same pobox.com service for that since 1995.
As iTools/.Mac/MobileMe/iCloud evolved, they remained linked with my original 2000 account. When I purchases extra iCloud Drive space, that had to be done through my iCloud (.mac) e-mail address, since that was the account all the services were on.
2003 – iTunes Store
Apple introduces the iTunes program in 2001, which was used to sync music to the brand new iPod MP3 player. In 2003, the iTunes Store launched, and I signed up for an account there and purchased my first music digital download.
These were two completely different services and accounts. I signed up to the iTunes Store using the e-mail address I’d been using since 1995.
Over the years, all my iTunes purchases were made under my iTunes account. This includes any iPhone apps purchased from the App Store, introduced in 2008.
At some point, the Apple ID was introduced. One of the features is:
Users can use different Apple IDs for their store purchases and for their iCloud storage and other uses. This includes many MobileMe users who have always had difficulties as they were forced to use more than one Apple ID, because on signing-up to the MobileMe service a new Apple ID was automatically created using the me.com email address being created at the time, meaning users could not change their previous Apple ID email address to be their me.com email address and has always remained so. Apple does not permit different accounts to be merged. …– Wikipedia page for Apple ID
2004 – Gmail
Google launched a free web e-mail service on April 1, 2004. It claimed to give every user 1 gigabyte of e-mail storage, for free. That was such a huge amount of storage that many suspected this was an April Fool’s Day joke. Like many, I signed up for a gmail.com e-mail address.
I never used it, preferring to stick with my pobox.com alias I had been using since 1995.
2005 – YouTube
YouTube was not created by Google. It was purchased by Google in late 2006. I signed up for a YouTube account in those early days, before Google was involved. Thus, not a Google account. After Google acquired YouTube, they rolled the accounts over to Google accounts, but could not merge them.
Thus, I ended up with one Google account, which was for my gmail, and another Google account, which was my YouTube. As Google introduced more services, they were added to both my accounts.
Today, I have two Apple IDs — one that I had always used for purchases, and the other was just a free e-mail account. As more and more Apple services were added, they were added to both accounts. Anything with an iCloud login, such as an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, etc., I would use my original iTools account. Anything associated with the Apple Stores would use my original iTunes account.
Fortunately, iOS devices have these areas separated — you can log in to your iCloud account, and log in to a separate account for purchases and subscriptions.
Meanwhile, as Google introduced new services, they rolled in to all accounts. I used them with my original YouTube account, and kept my Gmail account just as e-mail.
Which means today I have two Google Sheets, two Google Docs, two Google Voice, etc. I log in to one if using e-mail, and the other if using “everything else.”
Neither company has a way to merge these accounts. With Google, I had created a free Google Voice voice mail number in the mid-2000s to use with the podcasts I was making at the time, Then, several years later I had to give up my cell phone for awhile. I ported my old Sprint-then-AT&T number over to my other account’s Google Voice. If Google ever did allow merging accounts, I’d have to lose one of those numbers.
As to Apple, I initially liked having the thing connected to money (credit cards on file to make purchases or pay for subscriptions) separated from the thing that was just e-mail and free Apple services. But that created a problem, as I somehow have been in different accounts when I’ve activated different things, such as AppleCare on a device, or a subscription to some service. Now I have to log out and re-log to the other account just to see what all I am paying for.
It’s quite a mess.
YouTube Channels makes things even worse
To make things even worse, at some point Google introduced Channels to YouTube. This allowed you to have one main YouTube account (hooked to you Google login) but create sub-channels that could have their own videos and playlists. My channel has always been an odd mix of theme park home movies, Halloween haunted house interviews, Renaissance festival footage, retro computer videos, and dogs skateboarding. Channels should be a solution, but YouTube does not allow you to move a video from a legacy account to a new Channel. They advise you to download the video from YouTube, then re-upload to the new channel. That loses all play history, comments, etc.
Is there a solution?
I am posting this here in case anyone finds it via search, and discovers any type of solution to these issues.
I spent about an hour with various Apple Support folks last night — initially as a Chat, and then via phone as I was forwarded from department to department. Obviously, changing billing credit cards is a different division than the one that handles iCloud Disk subscriptions, so I don’t feel I was ever put in the wrong place. There were just a bunch of different places that are all part of this ecosystem. I expect, if I could reach a Google support person on the phone, I would have a similar experience there.
I offer no tips. No solutions. And no advice. But if you end up here with a similar story, please share it in the comments. I’d like to hear what you have discovered.
Until next time… Remember: Anything simple today may become a huge pain in the arse decades later ;-)