Channel partners: Is Kaspersky’s latest news a cause for concern?

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Do the channel resellers and distributors of Kaspersky’s products have cause for concern?

Kaspersky recently announced they are releasing a free product, and based on the level of noise I am hearing from channel partners, it sounds like they do.

I am a pragmatist when I hear people object to something — especially when they are unable to articulate why. At the same time, I am sympathetic to the skeptical feeling they are experiencing about the future of reselling Kaspersky products.

What does “free” do to the perception of value for money?

The decision to use a free product means accepting that only the bare essentials of protection are provided. That means also understand the risk of not having the enhanced additional features that complete my security requirements.

The decision to upgrade from a free product to a paid product means that I gain those additional features. Although they enhance my protection, they now have a perceived lower value than if I had started from a position paying for the entire package. Let’s take a product with a value of $100 that’s been sold for many years: the value of the entire product is perceived to be $100. When a company starts giving away 50 percent of the product features for free and continues to charge $100 for the remainder of the package, my perception of value changes. The cost is now $100 for 50 percent of the functionality.

This perception change makes selling the entire package difficult, and to maintain bottom-line revenue the company either needs to sell more, lower its costs or cut margins from channel partners.

Global distribution of a free product adds other complexities, such as support and infrastructure. Do you provide non-paying users with free support, or should they pay for it? Despite the dilemma of free or paid support, the increased volume may require additional resources, maybe outsourcing, all of which could change the quality of support received by the end customer.

How does this affect the channel?

To keep costs low, many small-business owners start by using a free product. I am sure we’ve all seen the free antivirus company branding on the bottom of their emails.

As the business grows and requirements change, it’s a natural migration to switch to the paid version, because the assets of the business are more valuable and they need more protection. Not only has the perception of value changed, as described above, but my route to purchase may have changed. There is already a direct relationship through the free product, so I take the offer to upgrade and have a direct relationship.

The opportunity for a specialized local value-added reseller to advise me which product is suitable for my environment and support me when I need it has now diminished. The local reseller took the time to understand my business and provided services to help my business grow without interruption. Understanding this loss is probably only going to be understood when there is a problem, and, unfortunately, that could be too late.

Are you a concerned channel partner?

If you are, then I recommend reaching out to the ESET channel team. As a business, we are committed to our partners and to providing our customers with the localized support and assistance they need. Contact

- ESET Global Security Evangelist, Tony Anscombe