22 January 2019
Bernard Kwok, president for Asia Pacific and Japan at Symantec, sees opportunities in China's telecommunication reforms.
Bernard Kwok, president for Asia Pacific and Japan at Symantec, sees opportunities in China's telecommunication reforms.

Symantec bets on mobile solutions to double sales

Symantec Corp., maker of the popular Norton antivirus software, aims to double its mainland revenue in four years by teaming up with telcos to protect corporate customers on the go and shield smaller businesses from cyber attacks.

The US company is in talks with China Mobile Ltd. (00941.HK), China United Network Communications Ltd. (China Unicom) (600050.CN) and China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (00728.HK), as well as Australia’s Telstra Corp. Ltd., Singapore’s SingTel and StarHub, among others, to promote its corporate data security services for mobile devices.

“We are satisfied with our growth on the mainland in the past few years, but we feel there is still a lot of room for development. We want to double our revenue in China in four years,” Bernard Kwok, Symantec’s president for Asia-Pacific and Japan, told EJ Insight.

“We have a lot of solutions that can help clients protect their mobile terminals. It will be best to promote these solutions with telecommunications companies.”

The push comes as the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology makes some key moves to open up the telecoms industry on the mainland. Late last month the ministry said it had issued the first batch of virtual carrier licenses to 11 private firms, including e-commerce service providers. The licenses give holders the right to provide mobile telecom services with infrastructure leased from the state-owned telecom giants. The moves are expected to create more opportunities for IT service providers like Symantec, observers said.

Kwok said the company seeks to boost business from the “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy of a growing number of businesses, which encourages employees to use their own mobile phones and other devices at work to lower operation costs.

Through Symantec’s management tools, corporate and private data stored in staff-owned handsets can be managed separately, he said. Companies can also delete corporate data on employees’ mobile phones if such devices are lost or hacked.

Kwok declined to disclose the company’s revenue in China but said income from the Asia-Pacific and Japan region has grown over the past seven years from 13 percent of the company’s total to about 20 percent. China, Japan and India will remain key growth engines for the next few years, he said.

For the fiscal year to March 2013, the company recorded 5 percent growth in revenue to US$6.91 billion after adjusting for currencies, it said in a financial statement on May 7. Revenue from the Asia-Pacific and Japan grew 1 percent in the quarter ended March from a year earlier, representing 18 percent of the total revenue.

Founded in 1982, NASDAQ-listed Symantec has more than 20,000 employees in more than four dozen countries. It ranked 379th on the Fortune 500 list.

Thinking smaller

Over the next few years, Symantec will also focus on business opportunities in China’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and government departments, which are coming under repeated cyber attacks, Kwok said.

According to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report, 31 percent of advanced persistent threats of hacking are aimed at SMEs; about half are against large corporations.

The company seeks to expand into second- and third-tier cities, offering not only security solutions but also data storage and back-up facilities and other IT services for SMEs.

The products delivered via the company’s website used to serve individual consumers, but Symantec is offering packages for businesses as well, he said.

Ties with Huawei 

In 2008, Symantec formed a joint venture with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to develop and supply network security, storage and computing solutions in China. But two years later, the US firm sold its 49 percent stake in Huawei Symantec Technologies Co. Ltd. to the Chinese telecom equipment giant for US$530 million, according to technology news portal

Symantec reportedly lost US$123 million on the project but Kwok insisted that the venture’s revenue growth and momentum were sound at the time.

“There is a possibility that some board members think we can speed up the decision-making process and have faster growth if we are one single company and either side takes over [the joint venture],” he said.

Huawei remains a major client of Symantec.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]


    EJ Insight reporter

    EJI Weekly Newsletter

    Please click here to unsubscribe