Security Companies Prove You Can Compete With Free

from the peace-of-mind dept

For companies struggling to transition to the digital age, the idea of having to compete with something offered for free causes a lot of consternation. But while price is obviously a factor in any transaction, it’s clearly not the only factor. In music, obviously, the existence of free, pirated music, hasn’t stopped the rise of the iTunes music store. The software industry is facing similar issues; Microsoft is increasingly competing with startups that offer Office-like productivity apps for free over the web. Lately, in the security space, the amount of free anti-virus and firewall software has been on the increase. But people are still buying from the incumbent vendors, because they can offer better service, more updates, and all-in-one packages. And when it comes to something like computer security, people generally don’t mind paying for the superior product. With the rise of web applications, open source and, yes, piracy, more companies are going to have to figure out how to compete with free. But if the product remains a compelling value, such competition is definitely possible.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Security Companies Prove You Can Compete With Free”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Innerdaemon (user link) says:

Isnt it a bit early to make this claim?

Security vendors might be selling more despite free competing offers but the reasons might prove elusive. I do not believe its because they offer a better value but because the entrenched security firms have better channels. How much easier is it to purchase security products that come bundled in when you purchase a new PC? Or when you browse the aisles at Besy Buy? In any case, what is the future hold for these firms once Microsoft convinces corporations that they know how to secure Vista best and that firms will get sigificant discounts when purchasing OneCare? Symantec and McAfee really better start articulating their value proposition.

SailorAlphaCentauri says:

It remains to be seen...

that Microsoft will be able to convince ANYBODY that it can secure itself better than anyone else. If – and I mean that strongly – microsoft can convince companies that they can protect Vista better than anyone else, it will still be a long time before everyone invests in the program. From what I’ve read, you’ll need a computer that can handle Vista and ye olde average consumer does not have one of those yet.

I’m not saying that Innerdaemon doesn’t have a valid point, I just think that it may also be too premature to forsee microsoft dethroning Symantec and McAfee.

Anonymous Coward says:

If I close the hole...

If the hole is closed, it can’t be exploited. What if the “hole” that allows the security product to function is considered a vulnerbility?

That is what Microsoft is doing. The mere fact that anti-virii (and the other) products CAN run as system processes is what is inherently wrong, and why so many other things can take over the system. Microsoft is changing the architecture to prevent anything other than the SYSTEM from acting on behalf of SYSTEM.

They are not “replacing” the security companies in vista. They are just closing the hole that allowed the security software to do what it did. This makes the system overall more secure. But it kicks out all the so-called security software in the process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Music is not the same as software.

The free security programs out there are not as full as what you buy commercially, the free music out there is exactly the same as the music that you pay for.

If you could get exactly the same protection free as from something that you pay for, do you really think anyone would pay for it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Free music not the same

Free MP3 music is not the same quality as CDs. It will allow you to listen and see if you like a song or band, but it is not the same as owning the CD. It may also allow you to take music you paid for and listen to an inferior quality version on another format, so that you can take the music with you and fee good about teh music you bought. This would make you want to buy more CDs.

If you are a fan, you will buy the CD for the quality, and to own the official CD with it’s extras that can not be digitized. You will go to concerts and buy t-shirts and other products. If music companies were smart, they would treat mp3s the way TV shows treat fanfic. Get communities together to talk about the bands and swap music as fan clubs, then sell your better products to true fans, who now want to own official gear to impress the other fans.

Business works best when it’s not adversarial. The way things are now, the RIAA and the like are mere treating all potential fans as criminals, and making us not want to buy from them or anyone connected to them. The extremes they go to make us lack sympathy we may have had if they had been a little more reasonable and connected to their fan-base.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think some of the free security software is better than the pay. i mean ewido updates like every half day or something. i think my norton does it every other day. the free stuff takes up so much less resources. they are concerened bout one thing.

the only real downside of the “free” companies i see, is that i don’t know the business practice. with pay companies, macafee/norton….you know they have smart business practices, don’t hire bad people and whatnot. who knows who may post an update or work for the free companies. but we all have our “price”

Ben (profile) says:

Free antivirus, like Avast!

I, personally, chose Avast! starting from one of the online reviews a year or two ago, and have not looked back. Norton, et al, have turned into subscription services, so buying commercial antivirus software is actually only “renting” it for a year.

Avast! (or more accurately, awil software) does concern me in that I do have doubts about trusting a company located in the Czechoslovakian republic. I still use them, but I am at least aware if the issue. Free for home use, and paying for commercial use makes sense, and is a great marketing plan designed to build a loyal customer base.

Anonymous Coward says:

Free music not the same

if you use the right compression rate mp3s and cds are nearly indistinguishable. the only way to tell the difference is to have both playing through hi-def (and i mean studio monitor quality) speakers that are right next to each other… and even then the difference is slight. unless you’re like that shmuck the other day using 30kbps compression… you won’t know the difference.

just ®idiculous says:

the rise of the iTunes music store

Wait a minute – iTunes didn’t rise IN SPITE of free music, iTunes was able to succeed only AFTER Napster was jammed and Joe Average Consumer got religion about piracy and possibly being hauled into a lawsuit by the RIAA.

Secondly, there are two scenarios that are similar to what’s going on with Security software. One option is Red Hat Linux adding value to a free offering, with a respectable degree of success. And the other option is that the “Incumbent Security Vendors” are more like Netscape right when Microsoft unleashed IE. Ad of course, THAT was an unqualified success.

Anonymous Coward says:

On Topic Now...

and about the topic… i still don’t understand WHY people buy norton and mcaffe… talk about process hogs. sygate personal firewall is (well, was, they’re done now) better than the norton firewall any day. and who the hell wants an anti-virus constantly scanning every file that’s downloaded, run, clicked on, even thought about? how about scanning only when i just downloaded a questionable file? …

ωя??ђ says:

Free or Free?

I have a question that I think needs to be asked. When you all talk about free, do you mean product like ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm Free, AVG Free Edition, and the like, or are you referring more to open-source projects that are released under licences such as the GNU General Public Licence?

The reason I think that this needs to be asked is because there is a big difference in the two types of software. One is a closed-development product that has features limited with the specific aim of encouraging potential customers to purchase an upgraded, enhanced or more fully-featured version of the same product, whereas the other is, as the name suggests, and open-development environment with the specific, un-diluted aim of performing the task at hand.

I’m not saying that all companies release free versions just to get you to buy the full version, but that they have to do that as a matter of survival – one of the best ways I can think that a company may encourage people to buy full software is through quality of service.

If referring to free-version software, then of course it you can compete with them, because they are intentionally limited in one way or another, whether it be a time limitation, the lack of a certain feature, or a feature being restricted (eg. AVG Free cannot scan network drives). All you have to do is provide more features.

Open-source, on the other hand, doesn’t have limitations because there is no profit to be had, but just the usability and how well the program is constructed (or ported to a specific platform). Therefore, if you get an open-source program that is well written, well presented, and has enough publicity, then companies providing a commercial security product will have a much more difficult time of marketing their product against a ‘good’ free alternative.

PatentlyObvious says:


There already aren’t many compelling reasons to upgrade to Vista, especially with the best antivirus out there (MacOS) growing rapidly in popularity. Many people in IT that I’ve talked to are already groaning about the fact that Microsoft is closing out all the security companies. I do understand their reasoning (changing system architecture to incorporate the principle of least user privilege), but trusting my whole machine to this Microsoft OneCare? I mean, obviously, they still think there are security issues, and they have a LONG history of being insecure, so why trust your data to them and only them?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...