Symantec, EarthLink Join To Sell Security By The Month

The new service, dubbed "Norton Security Products brought to you by EarthLink," consists of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus and Norton Personal Firewall products, which are downloaded to the user's machine in exchange for a charge of $5.95 per month added to an EarthLink customer's bill.

Small businesses can also purchase Norton AntiVirus in multi-machine licensing packs and add it to their current EarthLink bill. A five-seat license for AntiVirus runs $14.95, while a 10-seat pack costs $24.95.

Unlike traditional service models, the Symantec-EarthLink partnership doesn't keep the software on servers, but installs it on the user's client computer. The major difference between this new offering and Symantec's boxed versions of its security software, said Kraig Lane, Symantec's group product manager, is the billing structure.

"Other than the way [customers] are being billed, the technology for both the traditional boxed software and this are the same," he said.

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"We found when looking at how people like to buy software, that there were two different service models. One is like a magazine subscription, where you buy one or two years' worth a time. The other is to combine it with another bill, as, say, long distance and wireless phone charges are bundled on one bill. That's what we're doing here," added Lane.

Users can download the software, or if they prefer, request a CD be mailed to them.

Updates are provided free of charge as long as the EarthLink customer continues to subscribe to the service, said Lane. Those updates include not only the frequent virus definition files, but also software updates and changes. In the long run, that may save users money, since Symantec typically upgrades both products each year.

"As we come up with Norton AntiVirus 2005 [next year], EarthLink customers will get that same functionality in their updates," promised Lane.

From EarthLink's perspective, the arrangement is another way to differentiate itself from its bigger competitors. With 5.2 million customers, EarthLink is the nation's fourth-largest ISP, behind America Online, MSN, and Comcast.

"Making the Internet as hassle free as possible is a core element of EarthLink's strategy," said Mark Griffith, the director of product marketing for the Atlanta-based ISP. "By offering a subscription service that provides continual updates, we're giving our users a safe, secure online experience."

All EarthLink subscribers, whether connecting via dial-up or DSL, can add the Symantec software to their monthly bills.

"We've been very aggressive in offering consumers a strong suite of value-added services. We already have a free pop-up ad blocker, free virus scanner, and a free spam blocker. Bringing an integrated security product from a best-of-breed provider is a major opportunity for us."

Symantec and EarthLink will share the revenues from the new by-subscription billing, Lane and Griffith said, but both declined to reveal details of the money-sharing arrangement.

More information about the Symantec offerings to EarthLink customers can be found on the latter's Web site.

This story courtesy of TechWeb News