Bucking the current trend among antivirus software makers to sell multiple versions of similar products, Symantec plans to reduce its line of Norton consumer offerings from nine separate suites to one.
The new product, to be called simply Norton Security, will hit the market Sept. 23 and retail for $80 per year. It replaces Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, Norton Mobile Security, Norton One, Norton Internet Security for Mac, Norton Antivirus for Mac and Norton Utilities.
"What we realized was we actually ended up confusing a lot of customers," Gerry Egan, senior director of product management at Symantec, told Computerworld.
Most antivirus software makers sell three tiers of consumer security suites: a basic product typically named "Antivirus Plus," an intermediate one generally called "Internet Security" and a top-tier suite often labeled "Total" or "Premium." Each tops the previous offering with additional features such as firewalls, cloud storage, system optimization, parental controls, spam filters and so on.
Toss in separate products for Mac and Android, then mix and match those into multi-platform suites that cover some or all of a user's various devices, and it's easy to see how Norton could end up with nine separate products that do more or less the same thing.
The unified Norton Security, currently available in beta, eliminates most of those redundancies. Each subscription will cover five separate devices, with online cloud backup costing a bit extra.
"You might bounce throughout the day from a Mac to a mobile to a Windows machine," Egan told CNET. "We want to say to people that you sign up to Norton, it's as simple as that."
Egan also offered a money-back guarantee "if, at the end of the day, we run into [malware] we can't deal with."
However, the unified product line also eliminates Norton's lowest prices. Norton Antivirus for Windows, which may be all some users need, retails for $50 per year for a single machine, and its Mac equivalent is $40. The new Norton Security will be $80, the same price as the intermediate-tier Norton Internet Security. (Norton products can often be found with steep discounts.)
For users with a single computer who don't need parental controls or an extra firewall, or have iPhones and hence have little need for mobile security products, it won't make sense to pay an extra $30 per year for features that won't be used.
Egan told Computerworld that users of older Norton products won't be forced to switch to Norton Security, but gave no hint of how long the older products would continue to receive updates.
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