5 Things - Week Ending 1/11/13

This is the 34th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.

And unfortunately for Apple, this teen logic may also apply to smartphones. They don’t want to same device as their mom, dentist, and coffee barista. They want the latest, greatest phone that speaks to their generation.

I imagine that there are some teens out there that want nothing to do with Apple products if they see their parents using them.

On the flip side, my teenage cousins received iPhones for Christmas and they were stoked. Another cousin was talking about how she was happy with her iPhone 4, but was looking forward to upgrading to the iPhone 5S when it comes out in 2013. I also know plenty of teens that want iPads.

I am glad that I am past that time of life where I make my purchasing decisions based on whether something is "cool" or not. I was buying Apple products long before they were considered "cool" and will continue to do so as long as they work the way I like them to.

How Web Sites Vary Prices Based on Your Information (and What You Can Do About It)

Thorin Klosowski:

The reasoning for this price discrimination is pretty simple: one person’s willingness to pay top dollar might mean someone else will pay less. In this case, online retailers were altering prices based on zip codes. This has nothing to do with shipping cost—it has to do with the average income in that zip code. Live in an area with a higher average income? You might see higher prices at online retailers.

It really bugs me that companies might charge me a different price based on where I live or my past shopping habits. This article shares a couple ways to find out if you are being charged a higher price online compared to someone in a different city.

Big data made real: Technologies to help improve your life

Niall Harbison:

While this might sound superfluous to the actuality of day to day life, the opposite is true. The market is becoming flooded with apps and gadgets that allow us to effectively track ourselves and our daily habits to improve a particular facet of our life, be it our sleep patterns, our ability to exercise, or even how much we spend on central heating. Big data will inevitably play a (big) part in our lives from the services that collect mass data to offer innovative services, right down to how we analyze & collate our own data.

As technology continues to get smaller, cheaper, and more sophisticated I think we will see a bunch of new devices that can really improve our lives.

I am extremely excited for devices that help us improve our health. We are starting to see more and more of these devices released by FitBit, Withings, Nike, and Zeo.

I see a day where we will be able to wear a small device about the size of a postage stamp that will be record all of our vital signs and activity level. The device will send the data wirelessly to an app on our phone or computer and will alert us if something seems amiss. You will be able to choose to send this data to your doctor so they can monitor your vital signs and have a more complete idea of your health. You will also be able to choose to share your physical activity with your friends and family so that you can not only have a friendly competition, but they can offer encouragement and hold you accountable.

Combining the power of big data with the advance in consumer technology should lead to some very interesting ways to improve our lives!

iPhone 5 with $45 Straight Talk Unlimited plan now at Walmart

Kevin C. Tofel:

It’s practically impossible to get Apple’s iPhone 5 on the cheap without a contract, but at least there’s another option for the commitment-averse to save money on the monthly service bill. Straight Talk is officially supporting the iPhone 5 now with its $45 plan advertised as unlimited talk, messages and data. The price of admission for a 16 GB iPhone 5 with Straight Talk is $649 at Walmart stores, but the retailer is offering no-interest special financing for the phone: $25 per month.

An iPhone 5 on Straight Talk would save you between $870 - $1110 over a 2 year period. I based my figures on comparing plans from AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon. AT&T and Verizon do not offer unlimited data anymore so I chose 2GB plans for data since the majority of consumers use less than 2GB per month and wouldn't have to worry about going over on their data plan.

If you have been thinking about getting an iPhone 5 and want to save some money this might not be a bad way to go.

It might be surprising to note that Samsung spends considerably more than Apple and Microsoft. But it also spends more than Coca Cola, a company whose primary cost of sales is advertising.

Now I know why I feel like I am seeing advertisements for Samsung all the time. The company spends a crazy amount of money marketing their products.

It makes me think twice when a company has to spend that much money trying to convince you to buy their products.

I realize that Apple spends money marketing their products as well. Most of the people that I meet that own Apple products have purchased them because someone they knew highly recommended them based on their own experience with them.

My uncle Eric was asking me at Christmas if he should buy an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S3 and the room exploded with various people sharing their positive experiences with Apple products and negative experience with Android based phones (not necessarily Samsung phones).

I think Apple has the word of mouth advantage over Samsung and that is the reason why they don't spend nearly as much money on marketing as Samsung.