retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story last week about the enormous number of US teens who say they own iPhones, which led one MNB user to write:

I am one of the “spoiled” parents you talk about in your teens with iPhone example, as I upgraded to iPhone 5 and gave my iPhone 4 to my teenager. However, it works with her $25 a month AT&T go phone plan with unlimited texting and limited voice minutes, and no data. I fill it each month only if she follows rules and is good about her texting habits. She has to be on wireless for data to work. 70% of the students at her public high school have iPhones, one reason could be that they have switched to text books on iPad for many classes and also use iPhones for some apps in some classes example – vocabulary in English, translation in World Language. Also for logging on to school portal, submitting assignments etc. And several textbooks are available on iBooks which can be read on the phone if needed. Even her assignment grades are now announced over email as are other school announcements.
So many kids are now sporting smartphones not because they’re spoiled but because these phones are now increasingly cheaper and almost necessary for the technology driven lives they lead. I know some middle school kids who have developed iPhone apps – giving kids smart technology can bring positive results.
One other reason parents may be giving iPhones in particular to their kids, is the ability to track their whereabouts in real time through “Find my iPhone” app. In lost mode it captures everywhere the iPhone has been. And it can be restricted so kids can’t turn off that feature. Also iPhones allow parents to turn off downloading apps, or put age restrictions on games, movies etc. Smartphones are almost a necessity in this age!

For the record, it was not me who was referring to these iPhone kids as being spoiled. I was quoting from a story. All my kids have iPhones. And iPods. And Mac computers.

In my view, they are not spoiled. This is equipment for life.

Got several responses to last week's piece about an app called RunPee. Essentially what this app does is provide a database of almost every movie currently in the theaters, offering hits about when it is best to leave to go to the bathroom. You know, the sections of the movie when it won't really matter if you are out of the theater.

Not only does RunPee provide this service, but it also offers a time. You can choose the movie you are seeing, and hit the button when it starts. When the movie gets to one of those points when you can miss a couple of minutes, it vibrates ... letting you know that you can run pee.

MNB user Tom DeMott wrote:

Kevin, this is priceless and with this app I may go to more movies!

MNB user Chris Utz wrote:

I wish they had an app like that for business meetings…

From another MNB user:

At my age (54) I need to know where the closest bathroom is when you go out, this is the best idea since sliced bread.  Looking for the  “NICHE” A never ending quest in retail.

Another reader wrote:

As someone close to your age, I would suggest that this app needs a way to input one's age, so that they can adjust the required time to run pee accordingly.

Last week, we noted that Allstate, the insurance company, is saying that overweight Americans are causing the vehicles they drive to get less fuel efficiency - amounting to more than one billion gallons of wasted fuel each year ... Of course, one billion gallons is "less than 1 percent of  the total fuel used by passenger vehicles annually," the Tribune notes. But now that this data is in the public domain, expect New York City to start weighing drivers at toll booths before they drive into the city, and increasing their toll charges depending on their BMI; the same could go for taxi fares, which are likely to be synched to how overweight passengers happen to be.

Which led one MNB user to write:

I understand the problems with obesity and the costs involved. efficient is it to weigh people at toll booths and before they take taxis? How much fuel will be wasted at toll booths with cars are idling waiting for everyone to get weighed. Not to mention the labor it will take for toll booth or taxi operators to weigh these people.What about privacy issues? Are they going to make people get weighed in the middle of the line? Or are they going to waste more time and energy taking people to a private area to get weighed. Who seriously comes up with these ideas?

Actually, that would be me.

I was joking.

Though if the Bloomberg administration were to serious offer such proposals, I would not be surprised...

Finally, in my movie reviews on friday, I mentioned that I had gone to a couple of movies that I did not expect to like, which led one MNB user to write:

I have got to ask, why go to a movie you don’t expect to enjoy? I understand being surprised when you enjoy it, but $11 is a lot to spend reluctantly. I am glad you were pleasantly surprised. And I appreciate your spending your time and money and sharing your thoughts on which movies to see and which to avoid, but when I am iffy, I wait for cable or stream it later. That way I have some control as to when I can stop watching it without feeling guilty for leaving in the middle. And one more thing, thank you for the Monty Python reference the song is now stuck in my head...

Part of the reason I go to movies I'm not sure I am going to like is that I want to review them here on MNB - it is part of what I do each week, and so I have to see the new stuff.

But I also just love movies, and am willing to see stuff I might not like because I'm hoping to be surprised. There was one year in my life that I saw 150 movies - that's about three a week. I'm nowhere near that anymore, but I like to see between 30 and 50 movies a year, and would be thrilled if I could see twice that. (I keep hoping to get some of the studios to invite me to critics screenings, but haven't been able to work that out yet.)

Keep in mind, you are reading someone who was a college newspaper film critic, and who has several unproduced screenplays in his drawer. (And other couple on his laptop.) And who co-wrote a book about the movies.

That answer your question?
KC's View: