Network Associates' planned $1.1 billion purchase of Dr Solomon's Group will consolidate its position as the leading global vendor of antivirus products. But the network management and security tools vendor, which absorbed McAfee Associates last year, is still looking to snap up more competitors and further drain the market.
Among its targets is a leading Australian rival, Cybec. Roger Riordan, Cybec's founder, said Network Associates offered late last year to buy his company, whose VET product has approximately the same Australian market share as McAfee's Virus Scan. (In the retail space, both are eclipsed by Symantec.)"We told them we are wholly Australian owned and that we intend to stay that way," Riordan said.
However, a Network Associates official claimed only a phone call "exploring possibilities" took place.
Cybec and Trend Micro, another antivirus vendor focused on the corporate market, believe Network Associates' addition of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit to its product stable could present them with market opportunities.
"It effectively turns Dr Solomon's from a leading UK company into an American product," says Riordan. That gives Cybec the opportunity to present itself in Britain as an independent choice" and could stimulate VET's sales there, he suggested.
Riordan doubted the amalgamation would have an immediate effect in the Australian market.
However, Trend Micro's Australian manager Kenny Liao said the proposed purchase could rebound against Network Associates. "McAfee has already beaten Dr Solomon's in Europe so we don't see much value in the purchase."
There is a general view in the market that Dr Solomon's virus scanning technology is superior to McAfee's. However, the task of integrating the two technologies while simultaneously offering an integrated management solution will create headaches for Network Associates, he predicted.
Liao also suggested McAfee's historical preference for direct sales will create uneasiness about the merger among Dr Solomon's Australian resellers. "If I was a reseller I would be very confused now because Dr Solomon's channel is different from McAfee's."
That view was disputed by Network Associates' Australia and New Zealand country manager Paul Slattery. "Our business has been moved to a 100 per cent channel model," he said.