Russian security firm eyes Philippine growth

Antivirus security company Kaspersky Lab targets Philippine consumer and mobile markets, with plans to appoint more resellers in bid to catch up to rivals.

PHILIPPINES--Antivirus security company, Kaspersky Lab, has disclosed plans for expansion in the Philippines that include efforts to beef up its presence in the local consumer and mobile markets.

The Moscow-based company said in a briefing here Wednesday it will appoint more resellers and distributors in the Philippines, in a bid to catch up with rivals in the consumer antivirus software market, currently led by McAfee and Symantec.

The move is part of a corporate restructuring initiative stretching across Southeast Asia, said Gun Suk Ling, Kaspersky's managing director for Southeast Asia.

The restructuring, which began in Malaysia, is part of the company's efforts to focus on more markets, particularly the consumer and mobile segments, Gun said. Kaspersky's regional office is located in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, while its main Asian headquarters is in Hong Kong. The company does not have an office in the Philippines, where it is represented by local tech company iSecure Networks.

Gun said Kaspersky is planning to beef up its reseller and channels network in the Philippines, but did not specify numbers. She pointed to the country's growing Internet population and burgeoning online business environment as some of the primary reasons for the expansion plan.

According to various industry estimates, the Philippine Internet population is just over 10 percent of the country's 90 million people.

Gun also noted the local mobile subscriber base, currently at some 60 million, is a viable and potentially lucrative market for Kaspersky. In fact, she said, the company has already released its latest antivirus offering, targeted for use in smartphones, in the Philippines.

She added that Kaspersky has identified the Philippines as one of its key markets in the Southeast Asian region, posting the second-highest growth rate for the company, behind Vietnam. "Our business in the Philippines grew 679 percent year-on-year, second only to Vietnam's 1,496 percent growth," Gun said.

However, promising as its growth potential may be, Kaspersky has no plans to establish a Philippine subsidiary, said Christopher Sy, president of iSecure, which is Kaspersky's exclusive partner in the country.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Sy said Kaspersky is also not keen on appointing another distributor. iSecure Networks will instead "take care of the reseller and channels expansion," he said.

He added that aside from plans to expand its sales network, Kaspersky will also beef up its technical support and after-sales service via iSecure Networks.

Sy said some technical support is provided out of the Philippines, while higher-level support is still directed to Kaspersky's office in Kuala Lumpur.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.