Evolving The Consumer Security Market Beyond The PC

Today came the news that Trend Micro is acquiring humyo, a service that offers file backup, access, sync, and sharing across PCs and mobile devices.

As I wrote about in “New Growth Opportunities In The Consumer Security Market," my view is that PC-based protection, no matter how broad, is the new "point product,"  and the new “suite” that consumers seek is product plus services whose functionality goes beyond security to help consumers deal with their other major challenges as well. Security is still important, but privacy is a huge and largely unmet need, and so is supporting the new consumer computing models, as my colleague Frank Gillett formulated a year ago with the concept of "The Personal Cloud." Frank and I are currently discussing ways to bridge our research streams more formally.

What does this mean for consumer-focused Tech Industry vendors, and especially consumer security vendors? One of the implications of these shifts in consumer computing away from apps running on a single PC to Internet services accessed from multiple devices/device types, is that there is opportunity for what the tech industry likes to term "stickiness." While AV companies may engender loyalty from their customers, AV products are most effective and appreciated when they operate transparently and the user is unaware that they’re there: not slowing down the machine and not popping up undecipherable warnings requesting your attention. On the other hand, the engagement model for Personal Cloud services is one of regular and deep interaction. In this context, the acquisition by Trend Micro offers far more promise in contrast to, say, McAfee’s partnership with Mozy.

This is not just about backup, but backup does serve as a great example of the way these dynamics change the market, the new services opportunities that can arise, and way consumer security vendors can get into the business of providing consumers with Personal Cloud services. It’s no longer just “backup, but to the cloud.” It's about anywhere access, file sharing, and file sync services like those of humyo or SugarSync. It’s not even just your device-resident data but also data held at the Internet services you use like Gmail and WordPress, which is what Backupify is doing that’s new and unique. Eventually, it will also encompass the ability to deliver information from the Personal Cloud to enhance the experience of other services: e.g., having Pandora or Slacker augment their radio streams with users' own MP3s held in online storage services, or brokering identity information to limit proliferation of personal information while still enabling order fulfillment at retail sites.