AVG bets on Android, but competitors loom

The company bought DroidSecrurity last November but other players are in the market

AVG says up to 50,000 Android users a day are downloading its free security application, as the smartphone OS gains popularity.

AVG is using the same marketing strategy for its Android security application as it uses with its desktop software, offering a free version as well as a premium paid version with more features: Antivirus Free and Antivirus Pro.

AVG is one of the few security vendors with a product for Android but more are entering the market. On Tuesday, Kaspersky Lab launched Mobile Security 9, which now covers Android. Another company called Lookout Mobile Security also has an Android product, which is available as a free version and a more fully featured pay version, which costs $US3 a month or $30 a year.

AVG did not have a mobile security product until it bought Israel-based DroidSecurity last November, said Stephen Simpson, AVG's global head of consumer products.

Because of the rapid uptake in Android -- it is attracting more subscribers than Apple's iPhone -- DroidSecurity was "a natural option for us to look at" for acquisition, Simpson said. Since Android is an open-source OS, Simpson said the company expects more and more hackers to target it, in line with predictions from other security analysts.

Compared to Kaspersky's $30 a year product for Android, AVG is giving a lot away. In addition to antivirus scanning, it has a remote wiping capability if the phone is lost or stolen and a device location service that uses GPS to place the phone on Google Maps.

It also has the ability to display a message on the phone when it is lost in hopes that someone will be kind enough to answer a plea to return the device.

Users can also password-protect certain applications on the phone, which prevents the constant need to enter a password every time the phone is unlocked, Simpson said. Another feature, called task killer, lets users kill off certain tasks to preserve battery life.

The premium version, which costs $9.99 a year, has features such as the ability to back up information on an on-board SIM card. Simpson said AVG plans to develop a cloud-based backup feature, which would back device data up to AVG servers.

Among other products in the offing, AVG plans to release a beta version of LiveKive, which is a utility that allows files to be synced and shared across computers, similar to the utility offered by the company Dropbox.

Simpson said the online sync and share product is in the security sphere, as people want to securely share documents across different platforms. AVG will allow users to store up to 5GB of material free. A paid version will allow more storage, but pricing hasn't been released yet, he said.

LiveKive will be released to a select group of beta testers next week, with the full product eventually released to Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market.

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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