Stupidity is contagious. It gets us all from time to time. Even respectable companies can catch it. As we do every week, let's take a look at five head-spinningly dumb financial events from the past seven days.
1. From Baidu to Bai-tube
China's leading search engine is coming down with the same video-sharing itch as the world's largest search engine.
That may sound like a good idea, but if Google's had a hard time monetizing YouTube, how will Baidu make it work in China? Fat margins may be part of Baidu's paid-search stronghold, but they're far harder to maintain when you have to serve up chunky video files on a streaming site.
2. It's not smart to introduce a new smartphone
Google finally unveiled Nexus One, the first Android-flavored wireless handset to be sold directly by Big Goo.
Reviews have generally been favorable, but I'm cynical when it comes to Nexus One's chances of niche supremacy. Let's go over some of the reasons why I think even Big G will be a little fish in this pond:
Research In Motion
(NASDAQ:RIMM)already boasts 36 million active BlackBerry accounts. There have been more than 32 million iPhones sold over the past two years. How many more people do you think can afford costly smartphone service plans?
- Smartphones are typically sold with two-year contracts. That means Nexus One is down to marketing itself to either smartphone virgins, or folks who will have to wait as long as two years to make the switch.
- The more app-centric smartphones get, the less likely it will be that someone will switch to a rival smartphone platform and lose all of their apps.
- Between the G1, Droid, and now Nexus One, consumers may be confused over what an Android-powered phone is. Flooding the market with new handsets every other month may also keep potential buyers on the fence when it comes to making that two-year commitment.
The Nexus One isn't going to fail, but it's also unlikely to succeed in dethroning either of the two established smartphone titans.
3. GameStop over
Slumping companies often back away from their guidance targets, but GameStop has to take the cake for feeding false hope to its investors.
As yesterday's press release from the company announced, "We expect that strong PlayStation 3 demand [and] an exciting title line-up, combined with anticipated economic recovery, will all be factors that should drive software growth and therefore GameStop earnings in 2010."
That may sound upbeat, but let's time-warp to GameStop's most recent financial releases.
"We expect a solid fourth quarter in sales and earnings," read November's third-quarter report.
"We expect positive earnings growth in the back half of the year," CEO Daniel DeMatteo said in August's second-quarter report.
If the company's near-term vision is perpetually flawed, how can we trust GameStop's long-term outlook?
4. 28 days later
In the first of what may be many deals between Netflix
Warner Bros. is willing to give Netflix better pricing and more copies of new releases for agreeing to the 28-day delay. It will also license more of its older and direct-to-video offerings for Netflix's video-streaming service.
The deal may seem like a win-win. Warner Bros. sells 75% of its DVDs during the first 28 days on the market. Netflix claims that new releases account for just 30% of its shipments. However, what does this say about demand for new releases after they grow 28-days stale, if Warner Bros only sells 25% of its DVDs at that point? Netflix is also divulging a supply side metric, because new releases rarely can keep up with heavy demand.
I know that a lot of Netflix subscribers won't care about being denied the movies renting at the local video store, or available through their cable companies. But it's not a good day when Netflix becomes the equivalent of the $1 cinema showing older first-run flicks.
5. To 3-D or not to 3-D
One of the bigger themes during this week's Consumer Electronics Show -- outside of tablet computing and in-car connectivity -- is 3-D television. Several television manufacturers are rolling out high-end screens with 3-D technology. In a credit to the movement, several programming giants -- including Disney
However, now seems like a lousy time to introduce a big-ticket home theater appliance. Though more traditional LCD and plasma sets are finally priced for mainstream adoption, now the consumer electronics market may cool. Potential TV buyers may opt to delay their purchases until they see how the 3-D TV rollout plays out.
Confusion is never a good thing. Just ask folks who regret buying HD-DVD players.
Let's beat the dumb drum:
Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Baidu and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Walt Disney, GameStop, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. 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. Investors can learn plenty from both. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Netflix and Disney. Rick 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.