Symantec and McAfee in 'arms race' in PC security market

Both Symantec and McAfee are in an 'Arms Race' in the PC security market according to a report by The New York Times.

McAfee has been trying to dethrone Symantec, which currently holds 52% of the consumer market share compared to McAfee's 18% market share. This market share varies when you include corporate and business use. Unfortunately, for McAfee, they've been facing a decade of legal and accounting problems that left it in poor competitive shape, and employee morale low. Things aren't any better in the revenue department. Symantec made $1.8 billion in revenue last year, compared to $624 million in revenue for McAfee.

However, McAfee is fighting back. They've been aggressively trying to get deals with PC makers, and now that the company has David G. DeWalt as the new head of sales, they have expanded beyond anti virus software, acquired some security players and increased sales to consumers and large businesses. HP, the world's largest computer seller, currently has an exclusive deal with Symantec on its consumer PC's, but Mr. DeWalt said that deal could be up for bid within the next year.

"They didn't have much competition back then, but they will this time.", says Mr. DeWalt. However, Enrique T. Salem, the chief executive of Symantec, shrugged off his statement. "I love the rhetoric and the chest-pounding," he said.

However, both companies have been fighting off competition from free alternatives like AVG, Avast, and Avira. Just recently, Microsoft released a beta of their new Security Essentials software that includes anti-virus protection. Just recently, Symantec made a statement claiming that it's dangerous to rely on free antivirus.


Image Credit: Gartner, overview of whole PC security market, not just consumer.

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42 Comments

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Symantec have never made a decent product, in all their years. Maybe this one's the first, but I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. All AV products are reactive, and so do not stop the next bit of rogue code. All the experts on this forum talk about addon AV and security products as if they are mandatory and a requirement - they are far from it (if you know what you are doing).

I only run AV software on my companies computers because there is an expectation (by directors) to see such garbage.

Basic precautions prevent most malicious code - like using Firefox, Windows Firewall, (MPV) Hosts file (can prevent ads too) CCleaner (Free), occasionally running Malware Bytes (Free) to be sure you are clean, and making sure basic firewall function are enabled on the router.

PC's, and the O/S have become far too complicated for their own good, subscription AV programs just the same, they all suck, and now don't even give decent information on their web sites. may they all rot in hell!

McAfee got a big leg up from M$ when it was with AOL bundled onto Windows 95 disk.

I have tried McAfee, I just didn't like it.

That was in 1996.

If PC sellers wish to bundle McAfee then McAfee need to produce a superior product.

As a part-time computer technician (I'm a Systems Engineer), i've seen lots of computers with McAffe and Norton 2009 versions with many infections, including rootkits and other stuff.

On the other hand, I started to recommend Kaspersky over them and NOD32 and those same people from time to time came back for maintenance and their PC's are totally clean.

Not to bash them just for the sake it, but i think Kaspersky has a better product than the others right now. Norton 2009 versions are good enough but not up to par with Kaspersky. At least in my personal experience.

I haven't tried or seen computers here with Avira or AVG, so i can't talk about them.

well, ajua, I did install Avira antivirus personal edition on a friend's XP SP3 computer a few months ago and it worked okay. didn't slow down the computer that much.

I did get a chance to test out the demo version of norton internet security 2009 on my neighbor's xp computer next door and that one was certainly faster than older versions of the norton internet security software I've tested.

OK Ill start by saying Norton hater here.....but for all of you who say Norton turn around....ill ask this, do I have to pay yearly to have my product continue to be updated as they used to do in the past. This is an honest question as i havent touched a norton security product in almost 4 yrs. I do use things like PCAnywhere but nothing in the AV world. So I honestly want to know, do I have to keep paying to use it?

Like with most paid solutions you get a year subcription which has to be renewed, usually at a discounted price. You can buy 2 year subscriptions which are sometimes better value.

Yep, 2 (or 3) year subscriptions are cheaper overall, and are often licensed for up to 3 computers, which is especially useful in modern households (where there is often a HTPC, multiple laptops etc).
If you want cheap and legit protection for just one PC though, find an online retailer selling a 12 month OEM version (no diff to retail except almost nil packaging), and bundle it with a USB stick or something to satisfy the "must be purchased with new hardware/system only" condition

This.

After months of using NIS 2009 I am still happy with it, it's invisible yet powerful. I stopped using their products around 2002 with Systemworks.

personally i prefer KIS and ESET over anything else specially ESET (the best virus detection ever and the least false positives and the lightest security software in the market) you gotta love it

TheJudge said,
personally i prefer KIS and ESET over anything else specially ESET (the best virus detection ever and the least false positives and the lightest security software in the market) you gotta love it

I question your claim that ESET is the lightest on the market. Norton idles around 18 mb for me, and Avira takes around 7 mb with only guard on. NOD32, the last I checked, used >30 mb

I used to be ALL about eset 4 until it didnt detect a trojan that avira picked up on the fly. I've read on the internets about similar occurrences with other people. Using avira now and its beautiful, especially light on resources with this netbook i now own.

the last version of norton i liked was corperate 12 i want to say? super light. i dont use anything now on my home system, but as a corporate user of syamantec's Endpoint Protection suit on a few of my clients system, and using Backup Exec 12.5 with Continues Protection Server for one of our largest; im pretty confident i will never, ever suggest or promote anything symantec ever again. the most commonly provided suport tip for Backup Exec issues is wait until the next version or maybe the database is corrupt. yeah, MAYBE the database is corrupt.

i hate Symantec.

You can drive by a house and pick up a completely unsecured wireless network? Now that's shocking! Thanks, McAfee, I mean Captain Obvious, for the tip!

bbfc_uk said,
... but who leaves their home wireless unsecured. If you order your router from an ISP its already secure.

plenty of people do. If you live on a plot of land with your house way off the road, why bother to secure the wireless network.

Try it before you bash it. If you read the forums you will realise that quite a few previous Norton-haters have given it a chance and its changed their opinions.

WAR-DOG said,
Norton never!

I said the same thing, then I trialed NAV 2009 when I was looking for a replacement to what I previously had. It's amazingly light on resources, efficient, and problem free. I think I've checked Help/About a few times to confirm it is in fact a Symantec/Norton product!

I'd recommend NAV 2009 to anyone.

Indeed you should definitely try NIS 09, previous versions may have been bloated, but 09/10 beta are extremely lean. Idling mine uses 7-10mb of ram!
I have found nothing of fault with NIS 09, it kicks the pants off McAfee security center 07/08 or w/eva that I had been using for the past 15 months.

Symantec have greatly improved their products over the years - Norton 360 and the 2009 Products (NIS/NAV) were extremely light on resources and the current 2010 betas are even better. On the other side, McAfee have not. I recently installed the Total Protection 3.5 Beta and its exactly the same as every other McAfee product - slow and unreliable.

I commend Symantec for listening to their customers and re-engineering their products to be lighter. McAfee needs to do the same.

We have McAfee at work (some corporate version) and according to process explorer the apps and it's various services use upwards of 500mb of ram during it's full system scan.

I've also tried 2010 and I must say it is pretty impressive.

I've never had problems with the speed of Symantec (been using it since SystemWorks 2), but it has only gotten better.

I also remember when my workplace was using McAfee, that was a disaster. It would install the firewall, even when you don't have a product key for it, and then nag you about it.

bbfc_uk said,
Symantec have greatly improved their products over the years - Norton 360 and the 2009 Products (NIS/NAV) were extremely light on resources and the current 2010 betas are even better. On the other side, McAfee have not. I recently installed the Total Protection 3.5 Beta and its exactly the same as every other McAfee product - slow and unreliable.

I commend Symantec for listening to their customers and re-engineering their products to be lighter. McAfee needs to do the same.

Your 100% correct, I've been using Norton Internet Security on my computer for almost a year now, It has prevented ALL attempted security breaches, and not to say that not one virus has even gotten on my PC, on the other hand, my parents use the Internet Security our ISP offers, McAfee, I tell you guys what, that piece of software is nothing but bloat, it bogs the systems sources and is no where near reliable on keeping viruses off of your system. I can't even tell you how many times I've had to restore my parents computer because of Viruses And if that's bad enough, their computer has a Intel Quad processor, and my Athlon x2 runs a hell of a lot better than theirs, and its all because of McAfee, in sum it all up, Norton is a far superior Security Suite.

+10
From previous experiences with Norton products (~'02-'05), each version seemed to add more bloat, and reviews were always VERY critical of how Norton loved to hog resources. But that all changed in the '09 version (which was not just a version number change :P ). I bought and installed NIS 09 OEM (which was very cheap) instead of renewing the McAfee suite that came with my laptop (a 15 month subscription), and it has blown me away.
An experienced user like myself can fiddle with all the various settings, but the basic interface could be used by a child. It really is amazing - congrats to Symantec for making such a good product

I agree 100%. A number of years ago I had McAfee, and it was the only time I've had a virus get through. It did some serious damage. Since then I switched to Norton, and though it WAS heavy on resources years ago, I have watched it improve with each year. VERY impressive. I recently looked at a friend's computer running McAfee, and was rather shocked that it still contained all of the bloat that I remembered from years ago. Not only that, but he recently got a virus as well... I don't know what McAfee has been doing, but they've clearly been concentrating on the wrong things...

Totally agree. Symantec made a big jump in many peoples estimations when they bought out their 2009 offerings. Great products, light resource useage and effective prevention and detection methods