Under the terms of the broad deal, Yahoo will sell a co-branded version of Norton Internet Security at a $20 discount to the retail price, and Symantec will bundle the Yahoo toolbar with versions of NIS shipped via other channels.
Toolbar-initiated searches are said to account for a significant portion of revenue for web search firms, so the deal could benefit Yahoo as much as Symantec, which will ultimately get its brand exposed to hundreds of millions of Yahoo users.
As a part of the deal, the Yahoo toolbar will come bundled with a cut-down version of Symantec’s anti-spyware client. From the toolbar, users will be able to launch free on-demand spyware scans. The software will not include real-time protection, however.
Yahoo has also agreed to make Norton a part of its internet connectivity service. This will start in the UK, where Yahoo is partnered with former incumbent BT, but it will almost certainly extend to the US, where Yahoo partners with AT&T, in due course.
That part of the deal resembles the kinds of moves McAfee Inc, Symantec’s antivirus competitor, has been making. McAfee signed America Online last year, as part of a strategy to boost its volume of seats, presumably at the expense of average revenue per seat.
Indeed, it’s difficult not to see the deal in the context of the broader consumer security market, where the established leaders are doing everything in their power to broaden their channels and entrench themselves with their existing customer bases.
This movement is of course related directly to the entrance of Microsoft Corp into the desktop security market. While anybody with a grasp of the security environment is understandably cautious about Microsoft security software, consumer buyers at large are less reluctant to put their faith in Microsoft’s brand, as recent studies have discovered.
Symantec’s recent customer acquisition tactics have included a deal with Google Inc, to put Norton AntiVirus into the Google Pack software bundle, while its retention tactics have included implementing automatic renewals on its software subscriptions.