Monthly Archives: September 2012
Luddites should look away now. Failing that, they should reach for a pen and paper and scribble down their thoughts. Last Friday witnessed that time again when otherwise rational people do all they can to secure the tech object of their dreams. In this case, a phone. The one by Apple which prompts people to queue up for days beforehand to buy.
My money was already set aside for this phone and it had been for months. Then again, I just had to have the iPhone 5, primarily because the jamming home button on my iPhone 4 had been causing me no end of finger ache.
The resale value – and the knowledge that a new handset was likely to arrive this month – had been the only thing that had prevented me from throwing it across the room. It just hadn’t crossed my mind that my current faulty model should perhaps make me look for a different manufacturer.
But what if my phone was in perfect working order? Well, I would still have bought the new one.
Like most of those people who were in the squillion-mile queues outside Apple stores across the world, it is clear that prices of these devices tend to fall, that the item being bought has a finite lifespan, that hours will have been spent irrationally trying to buy something before much of the population has had time to open their box of Cornflakes. But in this instance I didn’t care.
Some buy gadgets on day one because they love new technology and features. Others enjoy having their friends, family and work colleagues look at them with jealousy as they show off a device which makes them appear more wealthy or higher in status. For these people, the time and money spent is of immense worth and the Facebook and Twitter chatter will speak volumes.
Deanna Jump is not a trust fund baby. She never married into money and she has never won the lottery. But in the past year-and-a-half, the 43-year-old kindergarten teacher in Warner Robins, Ga., has earned more than $1 million. Her unlikely strategy: selling catchy kindergarten lesson plans to other teachers.
Jump is just one of some 15,000 teachers currently marketing their original classroom materials through the online marketplace, TeachersPayTeachers TPT. Since signing on to the site, she has created 93 separate teaching units and sold 161,000 copies for about $8 a pop. “My units usually cover about two weeks’ worth of material,” she says. “So if you want to teach about dinosaurs, you’d buy my dinosaur unit, and it has everything you need from language arts, math, science experiments, and a list of books you can use as resources. So once you print out the unit, you just have to add a few books to read aloud to your class, and everything else is there, ready to go for you.”
To be fair, no one else on TPT has been as wildly successful as Jump, but at least two other teachers have earned $300,000, and 23 others have earned over $100,000, according to site founder Paul Edelman. “Of the 15,000 teachers who are contributing, about 10,000 make money in any given quarter,” he adds.
Edelman, a former New York middle school English teacher, launched TPT in 2006 after sinking grueling hours into planning his own classes. “Every night, I would spend two or three hours, at least—and then Sundays I would spend all day and all night preparing and correcting papers,” he says. To get ahead, Edelman and his colleagues swapped ideas and lesson plans. They also perused online sites for helpful resources, but found only sub-par, outdated materials.
Heidi Steffen and her husband used to treat themselves most weeks to steak at Sodak Shores, a restaurant overlooking a lake near their hometown of Milbank, S.D. Then they each got an iPhone, and the rib-eyes started making fewer appearances.
“Every weekend, we’d do something,” said Ms. Steffen, a registered nurse whose husband works at a tire shop. “Now maybe once every month or two, we get out.”
More than half of all U.S. cellphone owners carry a device like the iPhone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Government data show people have spent more on phone bills over the past four years, even as they have dialed back on dining out, clothes and entertainment—cutbacks that have been keenly felt in the restaurant, apparel and film industries.
The tug of war is only going to get more intense. Wireless carriers are betting they can pull bills even higher by offering faster speeds on expensive new networks and new usage-based data plans. The effort will test the limits of consumer spending as the draw of new technology competes with cellphone owners’ more rudimentary needs and desires.
So far, telecom is winning. Labor Department data released Tuesday show spending on phone services rose more than 4% last year, the fastest rate since 2005. During and after the recession, consumers cut back broadly on their spending.
But as more people paid up for $200 smartphones and bills that run around $100 a month, the average household’s annual spending on telephone services rose to $1,226 in 2011 from $1,110 in 2007, when Apple Inc.’s iPhone first appeared.
“What is at stake is the respect for tradition and quality,” Laurent Gapenne of Chateau de Laville and president of the Federation des Grand Vins de Bordeaux told the Associated Press.
“People use words in different ways,” WineAmerica chief operation officer Cary Greene told the AP, arguing there should be no ban on US bottles carrying the word “chateau“.
The French, on the other hand, argue that hundreds of years of craft are at stake. They’re worried that the cachet a mention of “chateau” or “clos” – which shows the origin of the wine – carries is diluted if other winemakers started to stick it on their bottles in Europe.
On Tuesday, EU experts from the different member states will investigate whether that should be permitted, with a decision imminent.
“I cannot understand that they would yield on this,” Gapenne said, setting high stakes for the latest skirmish in a trans-Atlantic wine war that has seen the US growing from upstart to an increasingly confident competitor on world markets.
US founding father Thomas Jefferson was enamored with French wines and the French held dominance over world wine traffic until well after Second World War. Then came the 1976 “Judgment of Paris”, when, to French astonishment, California won a major blind taste test over French wines. To this day, that event is considered the “tasting that changed the wine world”.