F-Secure Service May Aid Telefonica, Vodafone ‘Private Clouds’

F-Secure Oyj (FSC1V), the Finnish maker of antivirus software, plans to add a file synchronization service to help customers such as Telefonica SA and Vodafone Plc compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG) for cloud services.

The software would give customers access to their data across all kinds of devices, helping operators with their sales of cross-platform packages such as mobile, broadband and cable TV, Chief Executive Officer Kimmo Alkio said in an interview in Helsinki. It’s expected to be available in early 2012, he said.

F-Secure, co-founded by Chairman Risto Siilasmaa in a student dorm room in 1988, has shifted from retail sales to operator services and preinstallations on computers and smartphones over the last 10 years. About 200 telecommunications carriers account for 55 percent of its revenue. It added file storage and backup with the purchase of Steek SA in 2009 and is working on wrapping offerings from parental surfing control to laptop and mobile-phone theft protection into a single cloud- based service.

“Public clouds like Google, which are free and global, will coexist with private clouds such as those at operators, which can offer more control and customer support,” Alkio said yesterday after a customer meeting. “Who are you going to call at Google? In many markets, operators have a significant role and can offer an attractive portfolio of services that are good enough for the average user.”

F-Secure’s synchronization service will also compete with similar products from Dropbox Inc. and Evernote Corp.

Considering Acquisitions

The Helsinki-based company is considering more acquisitions to add products and expand its geographic reach, he said. Alkio has forecast that sales will grow about 10 percent this year, following 4 percent growth last year. F-Secure is expanding partnerships with telecommunications companies, which can enhance fixed-line revenue by adding online security services.

“Increasing average revenue per user is challenging in a mature fixed market like Italy with 25 percent churn rates,” said Alfonso Lotito, head of marketing at TeleTu SpA, a Vodafone subsidiary and broadband provider in Italy.

Of TeleTu’s approximately 1 million broadband customers, 10 percent have added a 3-euro monthly charge, on top of their 42-euro voice and broadband flat rate, for F-Secure antivirus, spam and firewall protection, Lotito said. F-Secure charges operators a flat rate per customer per month.

F-Secure spends 25 percent of its revenue on research and development, including custom services for operators and investigations of new viruses and other types of malware in the global F-Secure Labs, Alkio said. The company competes with Kaspersky Lab, Symantec Corp., Intel Corp.’s McAfee software and others in the market for end-user security software.

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at dbenaaron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong in Berlin at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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