Consumer Confidential: Mean money, Google phones, wiener war

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Here’s your maybe-baby Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- It pays to be mean. According to a new study, ‘agreeable’ workers make significantly less money than their nastier counterparts, with the gap wider among men. The study, titled ‘Do Nice Guys -- and Gals -- Really Finish Last?’, uses survey data to examine ‘agreeableness’ and finds that men who disagree with others often make 18%, or $9,772 annually, more in salary than those who agree with colleagues. The salary disparity is far less among women, with disagreeable females making 5%, or $1,828, more than nicer women. As Cornell professor Beth Livingston, who co-authored the study with Timothy Judge of the University of Notre Dame and Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario, told the Wall Street Journal: ‘Nice guys are getting the shaft.’


-- Google is diving deeper into the smartphone business by purchasing Motorola Mobility Holdings for $12.5 billion. The deal gives Google its own in-house hardware operation, potentially enabling it to challenge rival Apple on better terms but also raising questions for partners like Samsung Electronics that license Google’s Android operating system. It also gives Google ownership of a huge trove of patents that it will be able to use to defend itself amid an increasing fierce war over intellectual property among technology companies. Google expects to complete the transaction by early 2012, and it’s been approved by the boards of both companies.

--The wiener war is underway in federal court. The nation’s two largest hot dog makers have taken their legal beefs to a judge, who opened a trial Monday on whether the rivals behind Oscar Mayer and Ball Park franks broke false-advertising laws in their efforts to become top dog. The dispute pits Chicago-area companies Sara Lee, which makes Ball Park franks, against Kraft Foods, which makes Oscar Mayer. Sara Lee fired the first volley in a 2009 lawsuit singling out Oscar Mayer ads that brag its dogs beat out Ball Park franks in a national taste test. Those tests, Sara Lee argues, stacked the deck against Ball Park in part by altering the way the hot dogs were cooked and served. Kraft filed its own lawsuit in 2009, alleging that Sara Lee ran false and deceptive ads including a campaign in which Ball Parks are heralded as ‘America’s Best Franks.’

-- David Lazarus