The high cost of American tech consumption

Unconscious Consumption.

This week I put together an article about the recent fee changes to Apple’s App Store subscriptions policies. If you haven’t been keeping up, Apple changed the way the App Store handles subscriptions this week so that the company will take a 30 percent cut. It also included some stipulations that will make it very difficult for content providers to get iPhone subscribers through means other than the App Store, virtually forcing the 30 percent fee upon third party content providers.

The news reminded me of the ways American corporations gouge consumers on tech. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

While we’re talking about cellular service, why not talk about our cellular plans? You’ve no doubt heard that texting fees are a total ripoff, but let me remind just how bad things are. SMS messages are nothing more than data – tiny bits of data at that – sent along their own control channel in the wireless spectrum. That same control is used, on many networks, to tell your phone that it has service. Do you see where this is going? Let me use a simple analogy. Let’s say my friend Joe sends me a letter every day to let me know he is still alive. One day, he starts writing personal messages at the bottom of the letter, things like “lol y u so funny,” but for adding that personal message, an insignificant amount of ink on a letter he was sending anyway, the post office charges him 20 cents for sending it and charges me 10 cents for receiving it. SMS transmission costs the carriers almost nothing, but they’ll charge me $20 a month for unlimited nothing. That little tirade of mine doesn’t even address the fact that I’m paying for an unlimited data plan, yet I’m getting charged again for sending miniscule amounts of data in a text.

If you think it’s like this everywhere, think again. A 2009 study by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that Americans pay more for cellular service than any of the 30 member countries it surveyed. For an average, medium-use package – 780 voice minutes, 600 text messages, 8 multimedia messages – Americans paid an average of $53 a month. Consumers in the Netherlands paid $11.

It doesn’t stop at cell service, either. To read more about our tech expenditures, head over to the Bullz-Eye gadgets channel.


Girl Drops Into Open Manhole While Texting

A Staten Island manhole.In the latest of the “man vs. tech” series (though one of our last stories was man/tech vs. nature) involves the dangers of texting, as though we haven’t heard enough stories. 15-year-old Alexa Longueira fell into an open manhole on Staten Island this week. Reportedly, she’s fine.

It was only a four or five foot drop, but imagine walking along, aimlessly texting and paying absolutely no attention to the world at hand. Can’t imagine that? No, neither can I. How’s this – imagine walking along and suddenly dropping into a deep, smelly hole. And losing your shoe nonetheless. Would it be mental trauma? Worthy of a lawsuit? Alexa’s parents think so.

Of course, I’m not sure who they’re going to sue. How do you sue someone for your lack of attention? A violation of trust that the sidewalk would just “be there?” The workers claim they were “looking for cones” to mark the area when young Alexa fell in. More ridiculous news surrounding our inability to censor our information input/output. Much as I hope people get better at it, the dumb ones make for some hilarious news.


Mario Kart Teaches Students Not to Text and Drive

Texting while driving.Vail Christian High School in Colorado hopes to teach students not to text and drive by employing Mario & Co. for a few driving lessons. In a simulation set up by the school, students take the Wii’s motion-sensing wheel in one hand and a cell phone in the other and attempt to text.

Vail is just one of 20 schools using this same program to help teach driving safety. Sounds great, but Mario Kart? Your biggest consequence for a missed turn is falling off the map and getting replaced by a Koopa. Also, I can’t help but think mixing the challenge of a video game with texting is a terrible idea. The first thing I thought when I heard the news was, “I bet I could do it.” The school has added another element of challenge to a driving game, and if we know anything about gamers, they’ll try to beat the best we can throw at them.

One of the tested students said, “I ran into a lot of things and it was very stressful.” Was it $9.6 million stressful? I doubt it.

Source: Gizmodo


Philly Friends Set Texting Record, Receive $26,000 Bill

That'll be $26,000, please.Imagine your excitement (or paranoid chagrin) on opening your front door to an unexpected package. It feels heavy, and you can see from the postage stamp that it cost a whopping $27.55 just to send the thing. Would you ever imagine it was a phone bill? How about a phone bill for $26,000?

That’s exactly what two friends in Philadelphia received after they attempted to set the monthly texting record. Nick Andes and Doug Klinger began their quest with the highest record they could find – 182,000 from 2005. Armed with unlimited texting plans and fast fingers, the two set themselves to the task, sometimes texting so hard their phones couldn’t even receive phone calls.

They crushed the previous record, making 217,000 texts over the course of the month. T-Mobile has reportedly credited the massive phone bill in its entirety. Klinger and Andes are just waiting on the official congratulations from the Guinness committee.

Source: Gizmodo