Kaspersky to bring small-office product to North America

Kaspesky KSOS screenshotAt last year’s Kaspersky Lab Americas Partner Conference, the focus was on the enterprise. But at this year’s event, it was the very small end of the business world that got the spotlight, as the company announced it would soon bring its Kaspersky Small Office Security (KSOS) to market in North America.

Introducing the product to 200-plus North American partners, Kaspersky North America CMO Randy Drawas said there’s a “mismatch” for the smallest of businesses, which number in the millions throughout the Americas, and are particularly prevalent in Canada and Latin America.

Traditionally, Drawas said those businesses have either bought a consumer-grade product at retail, or gone for a business-grade product that’s significantly more than they need at a significantly higher price tag. But with KSOS, he said that Kaspersky’s partners would have a tool for clients in the sub-10 PC space.

“Anywhere there’s a small office, we’ve got a solution for this very underserved market,” Drawas said.

KSOS supports up to 10 PCs and two severs, and includes core anti-malware capabilities as well as a variety of other security features, including Web use controls and encrypted data protection, all with a centralized management console.

KSOS was initially launched overseas in 2009, but will launch in North America before the end of March, Drawas said.

Gary Abad, the company’s new North American channel chief, said KSOS would initially be available throughout the company’s partner base, although it will focus on smaller local and regional VARs and with major corporate resellers like Tigerdirect.

Drawas also walked partners through the recent launch of its unified Pure Total Security suite, launched just weeks ago. The product is a consumer offering intended for protecting the whole family (or household) online. Although many business-focused partners will find umbrage with retail competition, for the always brand-conscious Kaspersky, the consumer play is an important one. Even for VARs who make their business in SMB.

“We think that having a broader selection of products for the consumer market will help drive awareness for the corporate market as well,” Drawas said.

And the strategy seems to be working – at the conference, Drawas said Kaspersky is now the number-one retail software brand according to NPD, outselling even Microsoft and the ever-popular game World of Warcraft.

COO Eugene Buyakin said brand awareness for Kaspersky rose from 21 per cent in 2009 to 25 per cent in 2010 for Canada, meaning the Canadian business is still ahead of the U.S. (which went from 12 per cent to 16 per cent), but still behind Latin America, where Brazil went from 32 per cent brand awareness to 47 per cent, while Mexico inched up from 51 per cent to 53 per cent.

Global marketing chief Roger Wilson posited that once Kaspersky gets over 50 per cent brand awareness in the B2C space, “then we’ll really be on the shopping list for B2B.”

Kaspersky Americas boss Steve Orenberg said that (also according to NPD), Kaspersky retail sale sin the Americas jumped from 1.8 million units in 2009 to 4.8 million units in 2010, 165 per cent growth.

“Our goal was 167 per cent,” he quipped.

But Wilson said the company and its partners still have work to do on the Americas to get greater awareness in the business space. He said Kaspersky is on the vendor of choice list for 41 per cent of enterprises worldwide, but in the Canadian SMB and enterprises spaces, the figure is about 14 per cent. The company fares slightly better in the U.S., but is still south of 20 per cent.

Drawas provided partners a preview of the company’s new “It’s Time to Get Serious” ad campaign, which will feature consumers and businesses proclaiming their lack of fear in using the Internet, and represents the next phase of the brand-building job. For the first time, Drawas said the company will do TV ads in the U.S. and Canada, and will also do “the company’s largest online advertising buy ever” for the campaign.