Symantec: Securing new devices will require new approaches, business models

Symantec executives said that new devices such as the iPod and Treo will require a new set of security technologies and perhaps a different business model.

Symantec executives said that new devices such as the iPod and Treo will require a new set of security technologies and perhaps a different business model.

On a conference call with analysts Symantec chief operating officer Enrique Salem said the following:

As you look at the shift to a different form factor device where it's not a laptop or a PC but it may be an iPod or a Treo, that's going to require a different combination of technologies and quite frankly we believe perhaps a different business model and so one of the things we were trying to do with our recent realignment was to think through how could we within the company incubate businesses that would focus on different technology packaging and different business models so they're not, if you will, sacrificed by the high revenue, high margin components of our business as we have to make tradeoffs from an investment perspective.

That's an interesting point--Symantec is basically saying its uber suite approach that works so well for PCs and laptops may not fly on devices that will increasingly be targeted for attack.

Salem didn't elaborate beyond his initial point, but it's fairly obvious how Symantec would get this technology--it would acquire it.

Symantec CEO John Thompson said the security giant is shopping for more acquisitions along the lines of its Vontu and Altiris purchases.

Thompson made the comments on Symantec's earnings conference call. The company delivered a strong fiscal third quarter across all of its units. The company reported net income of $132 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $1.53 billion and upped its outlook for the March quarter.

Thompson said:

The early synergies in both product development and sales from Altiris and Vontu have been encouraging as they help to underpin new growth initiatives for our company. It's my belief that these types of acquisitions should add new top line growth for Symantec and help improve our operating returns. I would expect us to continue to look for acquisitions that drive revenue growth and enhance our net income. In addition, just like Altiris and Vontu, they will add highly focused teams with great technology and strong customer relationships.

Meanwhile, the company has reorganized to it can better focus on emerging product lines such as the Symantec Protection Network, the company's software and service platform.

My hunch is that Symantec could become a security software roll-up much like Oracle has in enterprise applications. In Symantec's case the plan would be to pick up tuck-in purchases along the way. The big question: What smaller security outfits would be a nice addition for Symantec? Obviously a software as a service company that targets devices would be a nice find.

Other odds and ends:

  • Norton 360 represents a quarter of Symantec's new consumer sales;
  • Symantec End Point Protection 11 "has gotten off to a solid start;"
  • In the enterprise for the December quarter, Symantec booked 554 transactions valued at more than $300,000 each, up 35 percent from a year ago. The company also landed 127 deals worth more than $1 million.
  • Thompson noted that it has stemmed any losses to competitors such as McAfee.