Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As I do every week, let's take a look at five dumb financial events this week that may make your head spin.
1. Stop being a sore loser, Michael
Some folks just can't own up to their tactical mistakes.
However, instead of making up for lost time or trying to stay one step ahead of the trend, Dell is primarily sticking to its line of larger portable computers and bad-mouthing the form factor of netbooks.
"If you take a user who's used to a 14- or 15-inch notebook and you say, 'Here's a 10-inch netbook,' they're gonna say, 'Hey, this is so fantastic. It's so cute. It's so light. I love it,'" CEO Michael Dell told Silicon Valley's Churchill Club on Tuesday, as retold by The Register. "But about 36 hours later, they're saying 'The screen's gonna have to go. Give me my 15-inch screen back."
So Dell is offering a very limited number of netbooks because it thinks the lovefest will die in a day and a half? We're already a year into those "36 hours," Michael. Where's the fade? Where's the return to your chunkier laptops? Even wireless handset makers are entering the netbook space.
The only thing worse than being late is being stupid about being late.
2. Danger is Microsoft's middle name
As of yesterday, Microsoft claims to have recovered "most, if not all" of the data lost in the fiasco. The one thing that won't be erased by T-Mobile is Microsoft's system failure that somehow took out both the core database and the backup.
And you thought Microsoft's nerds were smarter than that.
3. Will the real analyst please stand up
Analysts aren't supposed to nod in agreement, like a pair of football officials conferring before signaling whether the field goal attempt was good. But you also don't expect two Wall Street pros to be polar opposites a trading day apart.
Deutsche Bank analyst Alan Hellawell went the other way this Monday, by downgrading the stock after his check of Chinese ad brokers and consultants led him to believe that Baidu will come in at the lower end of its guidance.
They can't both be right, and when Baidu reports in a few weeks, one of these two analysts is going to have some serious egg on his face.
4. There's a slap for that
"AMP UP Before You Score" is a free download for iPhone and iPod touch owners. Users can choose from one of 24 stereotypes they come across in a bar -- from bookworm to rebound girl -- for pickup lines and tips. We're talking about gloomy quotes for Goths, nearby vegan restaurants for tree huggers, and a Greek alphabet decoder for sorority girls. If any successes materialize as a result of these tongue-in-cheek tips, app users can add their conquests to a "brag list" and post about it on social-networking sites.
I suppose this is a clever way to promote PepsiCo's AMP energy-drink line to a young male audience, but this is also the same company trying to sell Quaker oatmeal and Tropicana juices to consumers of all ages. If AMP pushes the envelope into the gray areas of questionable taste, it pushes all of PepsiCo that way.
5. No static at all
Apple is ready to offer FM radio reception to owners of the latest iPhone and iPod touch models, according to the 9to5Mac blog. That may seem like a silly feature, given the existence of Internet radio and the fact that these devices are portable media players with vast storage for music. It's also something that's been available on players from rivals SanDisk
Apple's chasing Microsoft? What a rare -- and sorry -- sight.
Let's beat the Dumb Drum:
Baidu is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Dell and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. PepsiCo is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. That certainly wouldn't be a dumb move.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of dumb and smart business moves alike. Investors can learn plenty from both. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.