Adoption of antivirus software on mobile devices remains low

Consumer adoption and willingness to pay for antivirus software on mobile devices is low, according to Gartner. Gartner believes that high consumer use of personal mobile devices for work purposes means security providers have an opportunity to assist enterprise BYOD initiatives.

“The use of personal devices at work matches high-enterprise demand for solutions to the BYOD security problem,” said Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner. “This presents providers of both consumer and enterprise endpoint security products with an opportunity to enforce security to private devices and potentially expand their footprint into the consumer space. Consequently, product managers at consumer security providers need to adopt strategies that allow consumer security use on personal devices in the enterprise workplace.”

Gartner predicts that 30 percent of consumer product selection criteria will be based on requirements to secure new mobile computing platforms by 2015. Product managers are advised to expand traditional endpoint consumer security product capabilities to include all mobile device platforms alongside traditional desktop and laptop offerings.

Particular attention should be paid to pricing and product go-to-market models, as consumers’ propensity to pay is much lower than for traditional desktops and laptops. Consumer security products should be targeted at specific audiences as gender, age and IT skills profiles are key factors in determining certain security demands and willingness to invest into certain security capabilities.

The low use of security products on new mobile platforms, combined with decreasing PC sales, will create ongoing challenges for providers in the consumer security market. Gartner estimates that the average IT-savvy consumer, with higher understanding of heavier use of IT equipment, has five or more devices at home that connect to the Internet. However, consumers are far more likely to have an antivirus program installed on their laptops and desktops while tablets, mobile phones and gaming systems that connect to the Internet are often left unprotected.

This lack of penetration of security tools among users of new mobile platforms will have significant repercussions on the consumer security market. Gartner expects the sale of new PCs and laptops to decline in favor of new mobile platforms, which will shrink the current addressable market.

However, as mobile devices gain in mass popularity and as security is likely to become a higher priority in the future, new market opportunities are likely to emerge. Currently, integration of capabilities that stretch across traditional and new mobile device platforms can help providers maintain some momentum and competitiveness.

“The current awareness of security and its impact on users of mobile devices is likely to change,” said Mr. Contu. “Gartner expects attacks to focus increasingly on mobile platforms as they become more popular. This is likely to make consumers show more interest in security products that address mobile devices and acquire mobile security as part of a broader consumer endpoint security platform.”

The number of devices consumers currently own and are likely to own makes multidevice licensing potentially very attractive. However, this will not necessarily translate directly into consumer expenditure on stand-alone mobile device security products. Many consumers will expect ISPs and device manufacturers to provide a security option. Alternatively, they will expect to be able to deploy mobile security capabilities as an extension of their existing consumer security licenses.

Consumer preference for online antivirus products and low spending on mobile security products means security providers must use alternative methods for maintaining revenue streams. Unsurprisingly, the majority of consumers opt for unpaid products in the form of either freeware or products preinstalled on their desktops and laptops and those that do choose to pay for antivirus software often do so via online channels.

When it comes to obtaining security services for desktops and laptops, younger consumers are much more likely to turn to free antivirus software than consumers age 50 or older. People in the higher-age bracket tend to be more particular about security and are therefore more likely to purchase an antivirus package.

The consumer security marketplace is already aligned to these consumer security trends and a number of security providers already increment their business revenue on alternative revenue models; for example, by raising advertising revenue, selling gaming software or monetizing on third-party relationships while offering free consumer products.

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