I have been patiently waiting for the Last.fm iPhone App to appear in the Japanese iTunes Store but I guess the local mobile music lobby is way too strong to allow it any soon. All the mobile providers here offer some kind of music streaming service after all.
The Last.fm App for the iPhone is currently only available in the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Canada. If you don’t happen to live in these countries you are basically shafted – in theory.
So I decided to hack my way into the US iTS. It is surprisingly easy with the introduction of the free applications since formerly the biggest issue was to somehow acquire a valid credit card number of the target state.
Apple itself offers a “tutorial” on how to create an iTunes App Store account without a credit card. The only difference is that at the bottom of the iTS screen you have to select the US store:
And as an address you need to specify a valid US location for which I used the San Francisco Apple Store’s. Remember to register a different email as well if you already have an iTS registration. Piece of cake. Note that this works for any free iPhone Application you’d want to get from the US iTS.
Very elegantly the iPhone can feature Apps from different stores. At least I managed to retain all my previous applications exactly the way they were and simply had the Last.fm App transfer over as if it was from the J-Store as well.
As for the Last.fm App itself: I went shopping with my phone in my pocket tuned to my recommendations and I was on cloud nine. Bless my limitless 3G data plan now I can listen to Last.fm stations anywhere with adequate reception. (To my great disappointment mountains are blocking some of the Kobe-U classrooms.)
One weird issue I have encountered using the app is that it is prone to run out of buffer constantly using my WiFi network. This is quite strange since it never ever had such a problem on the obviously much slower 3G network. I suspect it is some coding quirk in Apple’s networking implementation or in the Last.fm App’s streaming code. For now I just disabled WiFi entirely since 3G is fast enough for anything anyway.