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Symantec CEO: 'We'll absolutely have a Norton brand'

Ellen Messmer | Jan. 31, 2013
Symantec has commenced with a massive reorganization, saying it will end the internal separation that's traditionally been made in security software development done in the Norton consumer division and its enterprise product lines. But that doesn't mean Symantec's Norton brand is going to disappear, according to Symantec CEO Steve Bennett.

"It's now about protecting the information and the person wherever they are, the identity, authentication and backup," said Bennett. The world of mobile and cloud computing add to an ecosphere that was once mostly seen as the eternally attacked Windows PC and the job of trying to keep hackers at bay. And the new attack cycles are now measured in minutes, not days, Bennett pointed out.

The driving emphasis at Symantec will be in 10 main areas of product and service development, with Mobile Workforce Productivity and Business Continuity named as two main categories where Symantec -- the market leader in endpoint protection that has been largely PC-oriented for a long time -- will seek to prove it can lead in a changing world. "The core of where we're going is so radically different," said Bennett.

Symantec is also pondering its worldview in other ways. When asked why Symantec ended its three-year joint-venture relationship with China-based manufacturer Huawei in late 2011, Bennett said the core reason wasn't because of all the anti-Huawei sentiment reverberating in U.S. political circles or that suspicions that China was hacking into U.S. enterprise and government was almost daily fare in news reports. Rather, says Bennett, it's simply that it was hard to make the 49%/51% joint partnership work. "Huawei had different goals and approach than we had," said Bennett, who praised his predecessor Salem for negotiating a graceful exit with Huawei that he says benefited both companies.

But Symantec needs to have a strategy for China, he said. "China is a big market and growing. We have engineering resources in China. We need to figure out how to win in China and build products in China." He pointed out these kind of issues goes to a core identity problem that Symantec is now tackling, the sense that it's been a U.S.-based company with U.S. distribution practices that needs to grow to feel much more global in scope.


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