Good PR for those rich financial services execs

The NYT has reported that “Maurice R. Greenberg’s new company may soon start to siphon off business from A.I.G., and, therefore, its means to repay its debt to the government.”  This kind of news is just what the big financial services company want as they bid to protect their right to pay top execs high salaries and bonuses.  I’m sure they wouldn’t have placed this story.  Surely not.

Does Apple’s stance on Windows 7 show they’re scared?

For a while now Microsoft has struggled (in relative terms) while Apple has gone from apparent strength to strength.  Apple, it seemed, could do no wrong.  Then about 18 months ago a few things started to go against Apple.  These minor issues have largely been ignored or brushed off as, well, minor but I wonder if Apple may finally be starting to feel the heat from Microsoft?

What has gone against Apple?  Here’s my list:

1.  Steve’s illness was very badly handled and has shown how critical he is to the success of the company.  Microsoft handled Gates departure with some style – even making a quite funny ‘last day at the office video.’  At some point Apple needs to face up to the fact that Steve won’t be around forever and start preparing customers for that world.

2.  Microsoft ran a pretty successful ad campaign that showed how expensive Macs were versus a PC.  It clearly impacted Apple as they a) cut the prices of their products and b) asked Microsoft to stop running the ads.

3.  Microsoft launched Bing.  While Bing has a long way to go to topple Google it has achieved some success and has shown that Microsoft can actually compete again.  Meanwhile Apple launched Snow Leopard, while it’s a good product various reviewers, including the notable Walt Mossberg at the WSJ were disappointed.

4.  Apple has resorted to a very negative ad to address the launch of Windows 7.  They wouldn’t have done this if they didn’t believe Windows 7 may well lure some Mac customers back to Windows and of course stem the tide of people like me that moved to the Mac at home and finally at work.

I think if Microsoft wants to knock Apple of its perch as the customer favorite and mindshare leader when it comes to technology it may well be in with a good shot at it.  Steve is back at the helm of Apple and I’m sure they’ll usher in some great new products.  But Windows 7 has shown Microsoft still has real teeth and could well get a whole bunch of people to feel proud of owning a Microsoft product again.

Washington Post Tries User Generated Content

The Washington Potwp_logo_300st has announced a competition to find a new pundit.   “Beginning on or about Oct. 30, ten prospective pundits will get to compete for the title of America’s Next Great Pundit.” To make it to the final ten you have to submit a brief, topical, opinion essay.  In a world where traditional media is struggling, this presumably has several benefits:

1.  They get at least ten more readers (at least for a while)

2.  They get some free content from all those who submit an entry

3.  They get a very cheap columnist (the winner will get paid $200 per column for 13 weeks plus $2600).

Now they cant be doing this because they are short of editorial talent, or people that want be on their staff; and I doubt they are really doing this to drive a bargain with existing columnists.  So they are presumably doing this to get some interest in the publication.  Is this going to be like American Idol where we see the really terrible entries as well as the really good ones?  I hope not.  I have to say, that on one level I think it’s great that they are doing this.  It will give some exposure to some great talent.  On another level I’m a little disappointed that a publication like this has to do these things to get readers.