Antivirus war erupts

Antivirus war erupts

Accusing its bitter rival Network Associates of dirty discounting, Australian antivirus vendor Cybec is making its own channel foray.

Cybec national sales manager Andrew Forster claimed Network Associates is engaging in suspect discounting practices to win business.

Network Associates attempted to derail a recent $100,000 Australia Post tender won by Cybec with a $20,000 discount offer, Forster said. Other recent tenders contested by Cybec, including a three-year $300,000 deal with the NSW TAFE, were targeted for similar deep discounts. Network Associates country manager Paul Slattery acknowledged his company was "in annihilate Vet mode".

Slattery claimed he had no specific details on the accounts cited by Forster, but said it was not Network Associates' policy to buy market share.

Cybec has been encouraged by a recent Inform ChannelVision survey which suggests its Vet antivirus software has a larger-than-expected chunk of reseller mind share.

According to the poll of the market perceptions of 124 software dealers, Vet is running neck and neck with retail market leader Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus as a preferred product.

Cybec claims to outsell any individual competitors by two to one in the Victorian retail market but concedes it historically has not done a good job in NSW. To lift Cybec's game in that market, its NSW branch office has been refocused and reinforced this year as part of a general restructuring of the company.

So far, it is on track to grow its NSW turnover by 150 per cent this year, Forster claimed.

In contrast to its traditional heavy reliance on direct marketing, Cybec is also rethinking its channel strategies, he said.

It has appointed its first distributor, Malaysian company Turnkey Solutions, in Asia and is talking with three Australian distributors with a view to appointing its first domestic distribution partner in a short time, according to Forster. It will probably adopt a dual distributor model by appointing one company to deal with its larger resellers and another to handle the smaller outlets.

It is also working to expand the number of arrangements it has with systems assemblers and integrators and is "talking to the Harvey Normans of this world", Forster said. However he ruled out any likelihood that Cybec will follow Network Associates' lead and move to a 100 per cent channel model.

Antivirus package Dr. Solomon's is being discontinued as a separate brand in the US and over the longer term appears headed for the same fate in Australia. The decision to drop the brand in the US comes hard on the heels of Network Associate's finalisation last week of its $1 billion purchase of Dr. Solomon's Group. In Australia, upgrades and support will continue for current and new Dr. Solmon's licensees in the short term, said Network Associates Australia/New Zealand country manager Paul Slattery. By the end of this year, Dr. Solomon's will be absorbed into Network Associates' Total Virus Defence package and corporate customers will have the option of upgrading to it. "It looks as though we will maintain the McAfee front end, integrate Dr. Solomon's into the back end, and use a combined set of signature files," Slattery said. "I am not sure what it will be called but logically it will be a component of our total virus solution which we still call McAfee." In the single user space, the two brands will continue to share shelf space in retail channels. However, whether they are sufficiently differentiated to support that separation indefinitely is an open question.

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