CA, formerly known as Computer Associates, plans to officially announce a new program next week that offers incentives to PC rescue services such as "Geeks On Call" to sell CA's security software, the Islandia, N.Y.-based company said in a statement Wednesday.
"It is an extremely important channel. There are thousands of business owners we believe are in dire need of this platform," Chris Hickey, a CA vice president, said in an interview on Thursday. "It is probably one of the top initiatives this year in the CA consumer group."
Called Onsite PC Protection Program, the new CA initiative offers an online interface to manage sales and a welcome kit with $1,500 worth of product, the company said. An incentive of between $5 and $50 per unit is paid to the rescue service on each sale, depending on the product, according to the program Web site.
PC rescue services have a significant influence in buying decisions when it comes to security software, said Chris Swenson, an analyst with The NPD Group. Trend Micro, for example, has seen its sales jump since Best Buy's "Geek Squad" started recommending the Trend Micro PC-cillin products.
"This is evidence of how important service is in conjunction with virus and spyware removal," Swenson said. "It allows CA to really break into a market that has been difficult to get into and get on the either official or unofficial short lists of these service providers."
The CA program is a first of its kind, Swenson said. "I am sure this is going to pave the way for other vendors to come out with similar offerings," he said. "This is a very competitive industry; I can't imagine that they will be alone for a long time."
Competition for consumers' security dollars is heating up also with Microsoft's entry into the market late May. There's a lot at stake. Last year, the worldwide market for consumer antivirus software reached $1.95 billion, up 17 percent year-over-year, according to research from Gartner.
CA has already established a network of more than 300 business owners with more than 1,000 individual technicians, the company said. One of its partners is Geek Squad rival "Geeks on Call," a nationwide provider of on-site computer services, according to the company statement.
CA is a fairly small player in the security space. The company held 2.8 percent of the overall security market in U.S. retail outlets in July in terms of unit share, according to NPD data. Symantec was the market leader in July with a 47.9 percent share, followed by anti-spyware specialist Webroot with 22.2 percent, according to NPD.
CA's security products for consumers carry the eTrust brand and include its Internet Security Suite, EZ Antivirus, Personal Firewall, and PestPatrol anti-spyware. For small business, CA's menu of products includes the CA Desktop Protection Suite, CA Server Protection Suite and CA Business Protection Suite.