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Free Anti-virus Software versus Comericially Sold Ones
The software company 360 Safe has been offering its free anti-virus product for less a year. But a recent internet survey indicates the number of its product users has increased dramatically from 475 thousand to nearly 60 million. The 360 antivirus software has become one of the most popular internet security products of its kind in China.
It is the first time that free anti-virus software has been used by more people than commercially sold ones. The 360 anti-virus software as well as that of its rivals have been gaining a great deal of attention from China's security software industry. Zhao Jianfu is here to tell us more.
The veteran Chinese anti-virus software company Kingsoft has never offered any of its popular internet security for free. Although it offers some new anti-virus software for free trial periods, the company doubts the quality of free software offered by competitors such as 360 Safe. Kingsoft insists that commercially sold security software does a better job and is more technologically advanced.
He Yandan is an internet security product supervisor at Kingsoft.
"We all know that anti-virus software requires a lot of money. Anti-virus software companies need lots of servers and professional staff, which come at a very high cost. Without any income, it's hard to imagine what products and services that company could provide."
But 360 Safe, which has always provided free anti-virus software, disagrees.
Qi Xiangdong is the company's president.
"In fact, it's just the opposite. The quality pressure is quite small for paid anti-virus software. When internet users buy the software for 300 yuan, they aren't likely to give it up even if the software is not very satisfactory, because of the 300 yuan. On the contrary, for our free anti-virus software, it's easy to install. But when users become dissatisfied, they will uninstall it immediately."
Regarding the earnings from Kingsoft's sales of anti-virus software, Qi says:
"We will probably roll out some value-added services to get profits."
It all comes down to the users. Each company has its own understanding about what its product users want. Some internet users are not very serious about online safety. They often reinstall their operation system by themselves, so it's no problem for them to use free anti-virus software.
But those who want to ensure the security of their computers require professional services and software that they usually must pay for.
Huang Chengqing, Director of the Internet Society of China says having both free and commercially-sold anti-virus software give consumers an option.
"Netizens should have the right to decide which one they will use. Users may be dissatisfied if free software cannot provide high quality service, or if there are no free ones. We should let users choose by themselves. The market will wipe out the unqualified ones."
The competition between internet security companies is becoming increasingly fierce. The debate between free and paid services is very likely to continue.