Consumer Associates going after consumer retail market

Canadian retailers will have to wait a little while before they can put Computer Associates’ new consumer security products on their shelves.

The company announced this week that it is making the eTrust EZ Armor 2005 Security Suite and eTrust EZ Antivirus 2005 immediately available to major

chains in the U.S.

However, George Kafkarkou, CA’s senior vice-president of worldwide channel operations, said distribution here is being held up until a French-language version is ready. He hopes it will be done before the end of the year.

When they arrive availability will be limited, as in the U.S., to “”presitious players”” such as Best Buy and Office Depot.

“”When we increase market share significantly, maybe we’ll consider other activities,”” he said.

However, CA’s strategy is also to use system builders and Internet service providers as channels for its consumer security products.

CA is jumping into a market that, while the subject of almost daily IT news stories, isn’t suffering for competition. Among the leading North American players are Symantec Corp.’s Norton applications and McAfee Inc.’s security tools.

Microsoft Corp.’s purchase of a European antivirus company has several industry observers wondering if these players can survive should it again bundle an antivirus tool with its consumer versions of Windows

On the other hand, it is acknowledged that there are many home PCs without any protection, suggesting that there is still room to grow.

In a news release CA cited a recent America Online survey that showed 62 per cent of broadband users didn’t have updated antivirus software on their systems.

“”Given the importance of antivirus in protecting PCs, another player in this space does not constitute oversaturation of the market,”” said David Senf, a senior analyst at IDC Canada.

“”The number one (PC) vulnerabilities consumers face are viruses and worms,”” he said, “”and being able to defend against them helps protect their systems.””

As for Microsoft, Senf doubts it will get back into consumer AV as it did in the 1990s, which a light version of Symantec’s antivirus engine was included with Windows.

However, he noted that Microsoft is strengthening Windows XP with the inclusion of an upgraded firewall in the just released Service Pack 2.

Kafkarkou acknowledged CA’s name isn’t as well known as Symatec for consumer AV products. However, he noted that CA’s name comes up first in an alphabetical listing of antivirus vendors when XP SP2 searches a user’s PC for AV software. The list offers a link to CA’s site where users can buy and download EZ Antivirus.

CA is also trying to buy market share, offering EZ Antivirus for US$29.95 and EZ Armor for US$49.95.

The new products — CA’s first consumer security offerings — are part of a “”concerted strategic effort”” to push into this market, said Kafkarkou, with more products to come.

He noted CA has just purchased Pest Patrol, an antispyware software company, and will bring out a consumer boxed version within 60 days.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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