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Staying true to our mission of protecting all of digital humanity– celebrating our 300 millionth free user

An industry focused on catching bad guys

In one of my favourite literary road-trips, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Pirsig, 1974), the protagonist contemplates that fundamental human tension between left and right brain, between art and pure logic, between Engineering and Marketing. High on a Rocky Mountain pass on his motor-bike he has an epiphany: art vs. science is a false choice. Quality transcends all.

In our industry we used to think of two traditional target segments back in the PC days. There was the left-brained “Rudy” persona and his right-brained “Aunt Emma”. Basically, a techie with deep skills who loves our deep product-features, vs. an older person who just buys our product as an insurance policy for her PC.

As an industry we have had our customer conveniently locked in an intellectual closet while we caught the bad guys.

At Avira, we have evolved to keep our users protected

Don’t get me wrong, there have always been people not so engaged with technology. It’s just that the last couple years Aunt Emma spends a lot of her spare time on Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy, Rue La La, & Co.

The security business, like Aunt Emma’s attitudes and behaviours, has also evolved. Our industry now depends on us building secure consumer cloud services value-propositions where we earn our revenues with things such as apps, subscriptions and even advertisement impressions.

Our users’ security needs, along with the rest of the consumer IT industry, have expanded from PCs and web-browsing to smart devices and the cloud.

The latest incarnation of our consumer business already has its alpha segment. It’s aunt Emma’s niece — let’s call her Emily. She appreciates consumer IT that protects, simplifies and beautifies her digital life; she is both subjective and objective. She works in Evernote, and Atlassian. She uploads work and personal stuff to her Dropbox account to back up and synchs her devices. Media content is something she streams to whatever device is most handy, why bother with video downloads? She can go deep on settings. She indexes high in places like Berlin and San Francisco.

We know where and how to find her because we’re already working to keep her digital life in all its facets safe. For her there is no boundary between reason and art, technological advancement transcends that dichotomy. In the next 3-5 years most of her behaviours will be mainstream.

Extinction is for dinosaurs — smart industries evolve with their customers

We have competitors who see things these days through a Cretaceous lens. The PC business has flattened and Emma is growing older, so protecting consumers is a dead business they say. Please cue the asteroid. It’s that same false choice.

In contrast at Avira on July 4th, Independence Day in the US, we reached a significant milestone in our company’s history and validation of our consumer strategy, the 300 millionth installation of our flagship, Avira Free Antivirus. The journey to 300M began in late 2011 with the launch of our consumer strategy emphasising personal freedom and German reliability the “Avira, Live Free” campaign.

Increasingly it is Emily who is driving product innovation our industry. And Aunt Emma isn’t locked up anymore. As she along with the rest of the Boomers matures, she’s adopting new technologies and becoming a more sophisticated consumer than ever. Antivirus isn’t extinct. The security industry’s mission of protecting our users’ digital lives has already evolved.

This post is also available in: German

EVP Online at Avira. Responsible for Avira's consumer businesses and the technology teams and platforms they run on. Non-executive advisor to e-commerce companies. American expat based in Munich. Father, lifelong distance runner and downhill skier.