We don't react to our competitors' pricing

DQC News Bureau
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How important is the Indian market for Symantec?

FREER: I consider Indian market to result in the highest growth. We are the

leaders here and we want to remain the leaders. We've seen that India has the

largest number of customers whose systems are unprotected. The percentage of

such users being 33 percent of the world users. The silver lining is that at

least two-third of the users are protected. But we found that these people have

either not paid their subscription, are using freeware or use a product that has

not been updated since an year or two at times. This can only do one thing-that

they are protecting themselves from older spyware and viruses. Considering these

circumstances and scenarios, India has become a big focus for us.


Do you think the lack of protection is due to a low awareness level or the


FREER: I think that the lack of protection is certainly due to low

awareness. And this holds true for every country where we have tried to, and

more often than ever, established our company. Pricing is a different issue

altogether. Every country has people who are price conscious, but when one

matches the risk versus the reward, one usually makes a quick and sensible

decision. If a user buys an ultra-cheap product, the question which hovers over

his mind is “Am I truly being protected?”

Our aim is that our customers are protected from viruses and spywares as soon

as possible. The challenge is to reduce the gap between the time when the threat

is identified and the time when the crisis is averted. For the launch of Norton

2010, we have looked at our pricing; it has been reduced keeping in mind the

price-conscious Indian and other Asian customers.

How is Norton 2010 different from other security offerings?

HALL: We came up with a new model for security, which doesn't replace any of

our existing security technologies, but instead compliments them. It is based on

building up a reputation of the file even before running it. It is called

Quorum. We have started making this for every file that we've been working on.

It has been over three years now since we have practiced this. And I can

comfortably reveal that we've been building up the reputation of all these

files. We now know about 67 million such files exist.

David Freer

VP-Consumer Business APAC and Japan, Symantec
David Hall

APAC Consumer Product Marketing Manager, Symantec

Earlier, the trend was that a good security usually came at the cost of

performance. We have now worked to break that paradigm. Our 2009 products were

awarded the fastest in the industry. We brought the installation time down to

one minute and memory to 10MB. This was done just to present a security product

that did not compromise the performance of the system.

What factors build the reputation of a file?

HALL: The questions that can build reputation are as follows: How old is the

file? Has it ever been seen before? From which website did it originate? Has it

been trying to do anything suspicious? In an attempt to answer these questions,

we have been able to automatically create a reputation score. This means that we

can now stop new malware without having ever seen it before or having run it.


Quite a few vendors have reduced the price of their anti-virus products.

What is Symantec's stance on this strategy?

FREER: We don't tend to react to our competitors' pricing. We set a price

point to reflect what we think is an appropriate value for the protection and

performance of the product.

I know some of our competitors are getting extremely competitive with

pricing, but I can tell you that they eventually had to bring the prices back

up. And it's not because of the Indian market but because it's being gray

marketed out there. Since it's an English-speaking product and can be shipped

around, it's lucrative for entrepreneurs.

But you have to look at the bigger channel strategy too, because it's one

thing to have an ultra cheap product, but it's another if it's destroying your

US, UK and Australian market.


There are a number of vendors offering low-cost/security freeware. Do you

see this as a challenge?

FREER: While it is good as it shows that there is awareness among consumers,

there is also a flip side to it. These products are protecting the PC from

threats that are five years old, so they build a false sense of security.

Cybercriminals have already worked out how to get past Microsoft's Security

Essentials. They are just using signatures, which make the product obsolete.

Freeware protects the user from viruses and spywares, which accounts for less

than 20 percent of the attacks today. 80 percent attacks happen when viruses

infect when the user visits certain websites. No freeware has a chance to

protect a user, when this happens.

Is Symantec doing anything in the security-as-a-software space in India?

FREER: We are doing a lot, particularly for our small business and

enterprise customers. We've have recently bought a company called Message Labs,

which deals with such issues. However, as of now, we are providing these

services in the mature markets. We don't have a plan to get it here yet. I think

we have some basic stuff to do here first.

Ruth Samson