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    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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    Doing the worm: Tweak in 'Conficker' sparks fears

    The malicious Conficker Internet worm got more aggressive about trying to reach its creators Wednesday, but computer security researchers appeared correct in their predictions that the effects would be muted.

    The worm's programming included a change in tactics on April 1: The estimated 3 million to 12 million computers infected by Conficker were told to step up their attempts to "phone home" for commands. But that seemed to be the only sign of life from the bug.

    "One thing we're not seeing is any mass malicious activity," said Joris Evers, an analyst with McAfee. "The Internet today is working just as well as it was working yesterday."

    TECHNOLOGY LIVE: How to tell if you have the Conficker worm

    The worm can take control of unsuspecting PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system. But its creators likely want to use their vast "botnet" to send spam or perform other cybercrimes, and not to bring down the Internet.

    That's one reason analysts say the people behind the virus will probably wait to send any commands. "Everyone who is fighting Conficker is on high alert," Evers said.

    Security companies monitoring the worm have been largely successful at blocking infected machines from communicating with whoever programmed it.

    Microsoft issued a software update, called a "patch," to protect PCs from vulnerability back in October. But not everyone applied the patch.

    In one telltale sign of an infected machine, Conficker blocks Microsoft's site as well as those of most antivirus companies. Computer owners can work around that obstacle by having someone else e-mail them a Conficker removal tool.

    Reuters - RIM opens software store for BlackBerry

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    RIM opens software store for BlackBerry

    Wednesday, Apr 01, 2009 1:20PM UTC

    By Wojtek Dabrowski

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion has launched an online store selling entertainment, games, news, and travel applications to its BlackBerry users.

    RIM said on Wednesday its online store was immediately available to BlackBerry owners in Britain, Canada, and the United States.

    Unlike the iPhone application store of rival Apple Inc, which offers 70 percent of revenue from each piece of software to the developer, RIM plans to offer 80 percent.

    The rest of the revenue will be shared between RIM and wireless carriers, co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said in an interview. "We think that's a fair distribution of the economics," he said.

    The company's media-rich BlackBerry smartphones, such as the Pearl, Curve, Storm and Bold models, compete with Apple's iPhone for retail customers.

    Ontario-based RIM has pushed aggressively to diversify its user base beyond executives, lawyers, politicians and other professionals who use BlackBerrys to send wireless e-mail.

    "I think we've firmly cut over to the broader consumer marketplace," Balsillie said.

    Offering a slate of interesting and diverse smartphone software, from the practical to the entertaining, can sometimes mean the difference between keeping and losing a user -- someone who has spent money on such software may be reluctant to switch to a different device and have to pay all over again.

    RIM first announced its plan to enter the increasingly crowded market for mobile software supermarkets last year.

    Microsoft Corp is also working on a mobile phone software marketplace and has signed up partners such as Web music service Pandora, game publisher Electronic Arts, and social networking site Facebook.

    Separately on Wednesday, Nokia, the world's biggest mobile phone maker, said on "thousands" of developers and content providers had registered to sell content in its Ovi online store, which will be opened in early May.

    Microsoft and Nokia plan to offer 70 percent of application revenue to software developers.

    RESULTS THURSDAY

    RIM was set to report earnings on Thursday after warning in February its quarterly profit will come in at the low end of its forecasts. Still, it said it expects to add 20 percent more subscribers than the 2.9 million it earlier predicted.

    It cited a variety of factors in the profit warning, including product mix, lowered channel inventory levels and a higher ratio of new subscriber sales to upgrades and replacement sales.

    RIM shares have tumbled to about $45 on the Nasdaq from the year high of $148.13 they hit in June 2008. Analysts have expressed concern about the company's gross margins and its ability to maintain momentum amid a widespread recession.

    Retail consumers have curbed spending, which may mean they are not willing to pay more for flashy new smartphones.

    At the same time, corporations are trimming their budgets, which could prompt them to delay upgrading to newer BlackBerry models.

    (Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; editing by Peter Galloway and Dan Lalor)

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