The world can be a strange place and part of this strangeness comes from the fact that very unlikely (and at times downright weird!) relationships can occur between seemingly disparate variables. A post over on the Rocket News site caught my attention this weekend that illustrates this beautifully. It seems that as smartphone sales have increased, there has been a corresponding and almost linear decrease in sales if chewing gum. Most odd!
Why on earth would purchasing something like an iPhone decrease the likelihood of buying gum?!? Masami Yamamoto, Fujitsu’s president, has put forward a plausible explanation. Smartphones keep us occupied in those spare moments throughout the day. If we have a five minute pause in our workload, for instance, we can browse a website or send a text. According to Yamamoto, the smartphone has thus supplanted the primary function of chewing gum which, apparently, we used to enjoy simply as a way of killing time. He also believes that this is another example of an innovation in one industry unexpectedly impacting upon another, just like the impact the compact disc (a computer data storage device) had on sales of vinyl records.
Not sure what I make of that explanation, to be honest. Seems to me that different people use different products for different purposes all the time, so I just don’t buy the idea that killing time is the main reason for chewing gum. In my case, it’s more likely to be related to one of my irregular and doomed-to-fail attempts to quit smoking! As a regular pen chewer (make of that what you will, Sigmund), I prefer the more outlandish explanation offered – we aren’t buying as much gum because we are all seeking comfort by chewing our smartphones instead.
Well, you never know…could be true… In the meantime, here is my wacky product of the week – an iPhone stand disguised as bubble gum!