BlackBerry Tour trackball woes cause rampant returns, analyst says

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Microsoft and Yahoo navigate European bureaucracy

Microsoft and Yahoo are discussing their planned search collaboration with European regulators to establish whether the deal needs to be subjected to a formal merger probe, Microsoft said Thursday. The Commission, meanwhile, refused to comment on the talks, saying it’s up to the parties involved to decide whether it needs to be notified. If Microsoft incorrectly concluded that a formal notification was not necessary then it could face fines. One person close to Microsoft said the question under discussion with the European regulators is whether the proposed deal is a merger or simply a collaborative agreement.

Sprint to invest more in wireless broadband firm

Sprint Nextel is willing to invest more money in Clearwire, the WiMax operator it helped create last year, and plans to maintain its 51 percent ownership in the company, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said Thursday.  Clearwire was formed last year from the wireless broadband company that bore the name and Sprint’s own WiMax business. Despite US$14.5 billion in initial funding, including $3.2 billion from Google and several cable operators, Clearwire’s current war chest is not expected to cover the cost of its entire planned national network. Its WiMax network has officially launched in fewer than 20 markets and the company intends to reach as many as 120 million potential U.S. subscribers in 80 markets by the end of 2010.

BlackBerry Tour suffers trackball problems

The analyst who reported that a high percentage of BlackBerry Tour buyers are returning them because of trackball issues is standing by his research despite strong denials by operators. Nearly 50 percent of Tour owners with Sprint wireless service have returned them because of a problem that requires users to repeatedly swipe the trackball in order to move the cursor only minimally, David Eller, an analyst at TownHall Research, wrote in a report. Verizon also has a high number of returns, he said. Many people are complaining about the trackball problems on various online forums. But Sprint says only a “small percentage” of early production Tours had the trackball issue.

Botnet bypasses search engine filters

A new botnet has caused a sharp spike in click fraud because it is skirting the most sophisticated filters of search engines, Web publishers and ad networks, according to Click Forensics. The company, which provides services to monitor ad campaigns for click fraud and reports on click fraud incidence every quarter, said on Thursday that the botnet’s architects have figured out a way to mask it particularly well as legitimate search ad traffic. Click Forensics is calling this the “Bahama botnet” because initially it was redirecting traffic through 200,000 parked domains in the Bahamas, although it now is using sites in Amsterdam, the U.K. and Silicon Valley.

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