Software market largely untapped
Emerging economies including Bangladesh have vast untapped market for software -- waiting for unutilised dynamic and offbeat marketing strategies of software developers, says Kaspersky Lab Chief Executive Officer Eugene Kaspersky.
“Emerging markets, like Latin America, China or India, are very important. They are different, open and an interesting place (for software marketing) that demands dynamic marketing strategies,” Kaspersky tells The Daily Star in an interview in Moscow. Till now, the software market is focused on the US, Europe and Japan.
Some countries even have different regions that need different marketing strategies for successful sales, he says. Kaspersky Lab, one of the fastest growing award-winning security software solutions providers, has recognised this fact from its beginning 12 years ago. By contrast, American software companies do not recognise this as they follow traditional marketing approaches.
His words reflect the phenomenal success of Kaspersky anti-virus software sales in Bangladesh, where pirated software dominates the scene.
Since the time it officially hired a distributor in Bangladesh a year ago, customised its anti-virus solutions and brought the price down to a really affordable range, hundreds of thousands of personal and corporate computer users have started buying Kaspersky software.
In just a year, Kaspersky sold legal products worth more than $1.5 million. This may be a small figure in the multi-billion dollar global anti-virus solution scenario, but it is a milestone in Bangladesh, as no consumer software product made such a record before.
And it goes to prove that an appropriate marketing strategy can discourage software piracy in this country.
Aiming to become the number one anti-malware software solution provider from the present global status of number three, Eugene Kaspersky does not have a specific plan for the Bangladesh market. But he has plans to the regional market further. “It is the most populated and interesting region."
Despite global economic downturns, the internet security and anti-malware software market has kept on growing. So did Kaspersky Lab.
The 1700-strong Russian company's revenue increased by 56 percent, with a turnover of $370 million in 2009. Ten friends, including Kaspersky, privately own the company, giving it maximum flexibility in decision-making.
With a goal to become the leading anti-malware provider in the next five years, Kaspersky is aggressively expanding its distribution networks around the world. It organised an international media tour in Moscow in the first week of December, inviting more than 30 journalists from around the world.
A star in the information technology industry, math genius and founder of Kaspersky Lab, Kaspersky believes piracy is directly linked to economic condition. “Good economic condition is a pre-requisite to legal content sales. When people do not have enough money, it is not possible to make them buy everything legal."
To encourage people to buy legal products, the quality of the software should be high, the price should be reasonable and the use of legal products should be promoted, he says.
This is why Kaspersky sells its product to the affluent US market at the highest cost range among all other security programmes. The same product sells at high prices in Europe, but at much cheaper rates in Asian countries, usually with a one-year subscription. In China, which ranks number one in software piracy, Kaspersky offers the lowest price, plus three years of subscription.
“Technically, we can stop the use of pirated software. But we have to balance with the consumers considering economic factors. We disturb pirates so that they look for the product activation key (from different websites). At some point, those who can afford, they buy the key."
“Some people will buy if given a good bargain. Some will never buy,” he says.
The major threat for internet users is often underplayed. Kaspersky believes millions of computers remain infected by malwares released by cyber criminals for various purposes.
“Imagine an army of soldiers (infected PCs) are waiting for an instruction (from the cyber criminals). They can crash servers and ask for money to restore the systems. The whole idea behind this is to blackmail people."
“They offer services to different aggressive business related websites. They also offer to shut down competitors' websites. And they have a price list for the duration of this shutdown," he says, explaining how cyber criminals make money.
“It is an endless war to protect the internet and your PC."
In future, more and more security needs will centre around smart mobile phones. Till now, security issues for mobiles remained limited as people used PCs for financial transactions. When smartphones will almost completely replace computers, cellphones will demand serious security systems.