Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. Let's take a look at five dumb financial events from this week that may make your head spin.
1. Ink about it
Environmentalists, printing presses, and anyone with a brain are shaking their heads at a new partnership between Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and publishing giant Conde Nast that will introduce home-based printing of magazines.
It's easy to see why HP and Conde Nast love this. HP will be selling a lot more ink, since who wants to print out Glamour or Details in anything less than a high-quality glossy setting. Conde Nast can save a pretty penny by skimping on printing and postage costs. However, how many readers do you think would go for this? Even if we're talking about printing select articles or getting an insane subscription discount, it's just not feasible on any level.
Digital distribution is certainly the future, but for magazines, that means making sure you have editions that hold up visually well on tablets -- and to a lesser extent PCs and smartphones.
How many of the HP or Conde Nast board members actually printed out Wednesday morning's press release? Exactly.
2. What about the children?!
Gannett (NYSE: GCI ) is turning its back on stay-at-home moms today.
The parent company of USA TODAY and dozens of local newspapers is pulling the plug on MomsLikeMe.com today.
Gannett launched the community website with city-specific subdomains three years ago, using local newspaper editions to attract mothers to the discussion boards and blog network to share their thoughts on parenting issues and promote local events.
Even if the project never fully took off, plenty of mothers are irate, knowing that the site's servers will be wiped clean of the content they have provided over the years. Does Gannett really want to upset the families that may actually still be subscribing to its publications?
The smart move would have been to simply sell the site, and then let someone else either try to salvage the community or take the fall for shutting it down. Gannett claims it will focus on other digital initiatives, but it's going to be hard to rally support for whatever community-driven site it may launch next.
The BlackBerry maker's downtime coincides with the iPhone 4S debut. How many of RIM's 70 million subscribers do you think are enviously eyeing the 4S or the latest breed of Android smartphones this week?
Even if this item doesn't qualify as a "dumb" move, since RIM obviously didn't plan for its buggy network to go kaput, the company has mismanaged its communications during the outage.
4. Take two tablets and call me in the mourning
When will tablet manufacturers get it? We're not buying non-iPad tablets in any needle-moving amounts.
We could be looking at new Droid phones, but the teaser -- promising something that will be faster, thinner, smarter, and stronger -- likely points to the second incarnation of Xoom. Unless the two companies plan to roll out a tablet that is substantially less expensive than the iPad, and that seems unlikely, since "cheaper" isn't in the marketing materials, it looks like we're eyeing another flopping competitor foolishly believing that you can be a contender in this space based on spec sheet alone.
5. The box is a coffin
The PC industry is struggling. Industry tracker Gartner reports that global PC unit shipments rose 3.2% during the third quarter, short of the 5.1% growth it was originally targeting.
Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL ) global slide continues, shipping fewer units this time around and slipping to third place behind Asian giant Lenovo.
After back-to-back quarters of declining shipments in the United States, a silver lining in the Gartner report is that units shipped climbed 1.1% in the third quarter. This may seem to be good news, but why is no one pointing out that -- if you back Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) out of the mix -- PC shipments in this country actually fell by 1.4%?
If you want to track these companies to make sure that they don't make another dumb mistake soon, consider adding them to your free, personalized watchlist.