Consumer Confidential: Microsoft phones, Gymboree takeover, Wall Street bonuses
Here's your masochistically Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
--Last week came reports that a Verizon iPhone may be just a few months away. Not to be outdone, Microsoft has jumped back into the smartphone racket with a line of new handhelds powered by the company's Windows software. For right now, the new Microsoft phones will be available only from AT&T, which is clearly preparing for post-iPhone exclusivity. They look and feel pretty much like -- yup -- an iPhone, and will come with as many multimedia bells and whistles as Microsoft can muster. Maybe the coolest feature will be the phones' ability to play Xbox games. "Halo" at work -- sweet!
--Kiddie clothes heavyweight Gymboree is being acquired by private investors for $1.8 billion. That's a whole lot of Munchkin-size overalls. Affiliates of asset manager Bain Capital will take over the San Francisco-based retailer, which has been on the auction block for weeks. The takeover was unanimously approved by Gymboree's board. I'm taking this as a sign that the money pros expect a whole lot of baby-making to transpire once the economy recovers. Or something like that.
--Another sign of the times: About half of all Wall Street professionals expect a bigger bonus this year, and some are expecting a much bigger bonus. A survey by eFinancialCareers.com finds that 11% of money pros are anticipating bonuses at least 50% bigger than at the start of the year. Even though we're still clawing our way out of the economic doldrums, and even though this hasn't been a spectacular year for the stock market, it's heartening to see that greed still rules the day in the financial world. I'm sure we can all expect monster bonuses this year as well. Right?
-- David Lazarus