Anti-viral agent: McAfee targets retail

Anti-viral agent: McAfee targets retail

Anti-virus software manufacturer McAfee is taking steps to increase its presence in the retail sector. Previously, McAfee distributed its line of anti-virus products via electronic bulletin boards and, later, the Internet. However, with the launch of a new three-in-one VirusScan product and WebScan, which provides virus protection for Web browsers and e-mail, McAfee and its Australian partner The Paradigm Agency are focusing on retail outlets as a major source of revenue.

"Tech Pacific is distributing the products through resellers and will be handling of the licences for downloaded software," said Glenn Miller of The Paradigm Agency, McAfee's master agent. The products will be on the shelves in places like Harvey Norman and a broad range of other resellers."

This marks a change from McAfee's former Net-focused distribution model. "Initially, we got into retail as a way to increase our brand recognition. We weren't really expecting great sales. However, what we found is that a lot of people would rather buy the product [VirusScan] in a box than get it off the Net. Going into retail puts us further into the mainstream," said Dennis Cline, McAfee's US-based VP of channel sales.

Although McAfee is focusing on retail outlets as a new venue for its products, the Internet remains the linchpin of its distribution setup. The company says it has the fifth most popular Web site in the world with more than 500,000 hits a month and more than 200,000 downloads of VirusScan each month.

Money? Who cares . . .

McAfee's journey has been an interesting one. Few companies have placed as little emphasis on getting people to pay for its products as the US-based manufacturer. Even today, VirusScan, McAfee's flagship product, remains available free of charge off the Internet. Want the updated version? Get it off the Net. Free.

That's not to say McAfee hasn't always asked for payment; they have. "We ask people who download the software off the Net to pay $US65," Cline said. Does he have any idea what the ratio of paying users to non-paying users is? "Not really." The point, apparently, is that sales have been strong enough over the years that McAfee hasn't sweated how many people use its products without paying for them.

"We've always supported customers and pirates alike under the assumption that we may turn a lot of the pirates into paying customers," Cline said. "We also felt that efforts to combat people taking the software for free really only served to make things more difficult for our paying customers." This model appears to have worked. McAfee has acquired 10 companies in the last two years and is on track for 1996 revenue figures of more than $US150 million, said Peter Watkins, McAfee's VP of international operations.

On the retail front

Before anyone nominates McAfee as Charity of the Year, consider its new line of retail products. Try getting these for free, and you may have some explaining to do to angry shopkeepers.

McAfee is now shipping VirusScan for use with DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 95 systems, all in one box. Watkins says the pack has been developed to meet the needs of users who have plans to run both Microsoft platforms on their workstations, with the backup of the full VirusScan for DOS products for use in the event of a catastrophic virus infection.

Although VirusScan is scheduled to sell for $95 RRP, McAfee's Cline says that may change. "The price point is going to be whatever the channel tells me it's going to be. If we can significantly increase sales by lowering the price to, say, $49, then that's what we'll do."

Also making the leap from the Net to the box is WebScan which, according to McAfee "consistently detects more than 96 per cent of the more than 5,000 known viruses". WebScan is also scheduled to sell for $95 RRP.

Available in about 60 days is WebStor, an Internet-enabled backup solution that, according to Watkins, marks a "fundamental paradigm shift in the storage management market by being the first backup product to leverage the ubiquitous nature of the Internet to provide comprehensive on-line storage management."

The Paradigm Agency

Tel: (02) 437 5866ÊFax: (02) 439 5166

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