AVG booms but bemoans holes in its product security coverage

AVG has launched the 2013 versions of its security software suite in New York, and outlined a big increase in the number of its users, but it is still frustrated by holes in the type of devices it can protect.

The majority of AVG users use free versions of the company's desktop, laptop and mobile device security software, with consumers, SoHos and SMEs making up the vast majority of customers. A paid for version of the software with extra features is available for larger companies and consumers who want more features to buy.

According to Infonetics, an industry market research firm, sales for paid-for mobile security software will grow 50 percent a year through to 2014 to hit $2 billion.   

Twelve months ago AVG claimed to have 98 million active users. A year on it claims to have around 128 million users, including around 15 million with enhanced paid-for versions.

The 2013 versions of the AVG offering, said the company, offer faster scanning, greater ease of use, and also include new data privacy features and an updated user interface.

The new versions of the software now protect more types of devices but there are still no versions that can be used to protect Apple desktops and laptops, nor Apple mobile devices by default. Nor is there security protection for BlackBerry smartphones or, currently, some versions of mobile Windows devices.

Last year, the company slammed Apple for the "proprietary nature" of the iOS operating system which is used for iPhone smartphones and iPads, meaning AVG could not be used to protect those products.

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Apple's Safari and Safari mobile browser prevents AVG working on its desktops, laptops and mobile devices. In the case of iPhones though a user can install Google's Chrome browser instead of using Safari, to enable AVG protection, a workaround that has been available for around six months.

Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG, said, "It's very much a position of 'watch this space', Apple does allow users to use certain family protection and security scanning technologies from AVG, and it's now a case of keeping a watch on our product roadmap."

When ComputerworldUK.com asked Omri Sigelman, AVG VP of mobile sales and marketing, as to why AVG didn't support BlackBerry devices at a launch roundtable event in New York, one AVG employee rather unfairly piped up, "because no one uses them".

Sigelman didn't give any official answer as to why BlackBerry users were not a target audience, but while BlackBerry maker RIM has been slow to bring out new designs and technologies to fight off fierce competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung, it's device security is seen by many as enterprise class.

There is already a free RIM BlackBerry security app that includes features such as phone lockdowns for lost or stolen phones, remote phone tracking and data swipes, and remote data back-ups.

The vast majority of AVG mobile security downloads are for Android devices, although with Samsung and Nokia this week launching high profile Windows 8 devices, the Windows market is an area which AVG wants to expand in.

Last year though AVG faced a development integration problem for some versions of Windows devices, and it was confirmed at the New York event that Windows devices using ARM chips to power Windows 8 were yet to be certified as AVG ready. The impression given at the event by AVG was that certification would be a formality, but the first Windows 8 ARM chip users will have to wait and see.