So many times a competition is actually a mechanism for a company to get a new logo, mission statement or campaign done on the cheap.
It can work out quite nicely with the winners getting some kudos and the company getting some intelligence for a very reasonable return but it does tend to leave those with a cynical bent concerned about the way that research and development might be carried out.
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The latest example is the HP Pwn2Own competition with encourages security specialists to reverse engineer software to find the vulnerabilities. Once that has been done the vendor will include the information the competition has thrown up to improve its TippingPoint Intrustion Prevention System.
The prize on offer is a fairly decent one with up to $105,000 on offer to the best of the bunch but you have to wonder how much so wide ranging and extensive testing would have cost commercially.
All credit to HP, and the numerous others that do the same, if you can make it work for you then it's a job well done but that said, it's hard not to be a bit cynical about the mechanics of it all.