NetQin Mobile on Friday denied reports that claimed it had deliberately installed viruses on customers' mobile phones along with its antivirus software and then charged customers to remove the malware.
NetQin's denial follows a written rebuttal in the initial public offering prospectus it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In that document, dated March 15, NetQin referred to a China State TV report that charged the company with "uploading a virus to imported mobile phones to promote our mobile security products by Beijing Feiliu," a company in which NetQin holds a 33% interest.
NetQin, a Beijing-based mobile security software maker, hosted a booth at the International CTIA Wireless show in Orlando this week, and it announced its NetQin Mobile Anti-virus 4.0 Beta for BlackBerry on Tuesday.
The following day, reports circulated on the Internet describing the earlier Chinese State TV report on the alleged malware scheme. Various websites, including Cellular-news.com, reported that NetQin's customers would load the NetQin antivirus software and then get an alert informing them that they needed an update to fix a problem; they would be charged about 30 cents for the update.
Cellular-news.com also said the NetQin software removed other antivirus software on the phones. Also, Cellular-news.com said China's three wireless network providers blocked sales of the NetQin software from their app stores.
In a formal denial issued on Friday, NetQin said, "The allegations waged against us are entirely false" and it encouraged any independent third party to evaluate and audit its products. "We are confident they will be found to be safe, secure and of high quality," the NetQin statement said.
In an e-mail, a publicist hired by NetQin, Sean Angus from Spark PR, said the allegations were surprising and were "set up by a competitor and are completely false."
In a telephone interview, NetQin spokeswoman Elena Lau said NetQin's antivirus software had never been sold by the three China-based carriers in their app stores. She said that NetQin had no comment on whether a competitor fabricated the stories.
"This is a non-event," Lau said, and added that she could not comment beyond the statement because NetQin is in a silent period, since it has filed an IPO prospectus to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
SEC records show that NetQin filed for its IPO on March 15. It plans to use the ticker symbol "NQ" and listed Piper Jaffray as its lead underwriter. NetQin's net revenues were $4 million in 2008, $5.3 million in 2009 and $17.7 million in 2010, according to the IPO filing.
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