The bundling of a security suite with the upcoming Windows 8 operating system (OS) will compel rival antivirus vendors to rethink their price points, and also look for new opportunities in less saturated regions, analysts noted.
According to Aliza Shima Mohammad Kasim, ICT practice industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, the prospects of having antivirus software preinstalled in Windows will inevitably force some vendors to consider dropping their prices to remain competitive.
Ang Poon-Wei, ICT security market analyst at IDC Asia-Pacific also agreed that Windows 8 would definitely put more pressure on them, but said this would be minimal.
He elaborated in an e-mail that large antivirus vendors had gained significant consumer loyalty over the years. As such, the larger and more established antivirus vendors would not need to lower prices just because of Windows 8 and its inclusion of a security suite.
Panda Security, for one, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that they will not adjust prices of their retail solutions to compete with Microsoft defender. "Free antivirus have been on the market for a long time," Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Security's PandaLabs. "Our policy in the short term is not to reduce prices."
Another antivirus vendor, ESET also stated that prices were regularly evaluated but not for competition's sake. "We do review the pricing in the Asia-Pacific region in a timely manner to be competitive in the marketplace, and we have no plans to change our pricing to compete with Microsoft defender," Parvinder Walia, channel marketing manager of ESET Asia said in an e-mail.
More opportunities for small players
Consolidation among smaller companies is unlikely to pick up, Kasim said. This was echoed by Ang who believed that mergers may be more common among the larger antivirus vendors because of "more strategic goals", but not for the smaller vendors.
Instead the Windows 8 platform may actually create opportunities for smaller companies, he remarked. This would be through a new "Windows Store" which would open up a new channel for them to sell their products digitally. This app store is expected to be available over various Windows devices such as personal computers (PCs), X-boxes, mobile phones and tablets.
Partnerships and niches
Smaller antivirus vendors could also partner relevant technology firms to bring in fresher and wider offerings rather than get stuck in a "saturated market" of antivirus solutions, Kasim remarked. They could also broaden their focus to other operating systems in order to sustain their business, she added.
Ang also agreed that the smaller antivirus companies still had opportunities to focus on areas that were less saturated, such as security solutions for tablets or mobile phones.
He explained that the vendor could choose to specialize and focus on one device across different operating systems such as mobile phone security spanning across iOS, Android and Windows.
ESET also sees itself as a complementary product to Microsoft Defender. "We have worked with Microsoft for a couple of decades now to help secure individuals and organizations against malicious code and will be providing a broad range of technologies to protect users of Windows 8 and help make it the safest version of Windows yet," Aryeh Goretsky, distinguished researcher at the company said.