Symantec pushing into mobile space

Symantec is making a major push to get its security products into more mobile phones as 3G (third-generation) services and smart phone use spreads internationally, company executives said in Tokyo on Thursday.

"The growing levels of adoption of mobile devices mean that we need to protect these with the level of capability that you see in the desktop world," said John Thompson, Symantec's chairman and chief executive officer.

On Nov. 3 the company announced availability of its Symantec Client Security software for two Nokia phones, the Nokia 9500 Communicator and the 9300 smartphone model, which use the Symbian operating system.

In Japan, where 3G services are already widespread and are continuing to grow, the company is now talking to carriers and handset makers to offer them as yet undisclosed Symantec products, Thompson said in an interview.

"We've met several times with a number of potential partners to show them how to protect their 3G phones. We're working on a broad strategy," he said.

The software for the Nokia handsets provides antivirus and firewall software that is preloaded in the phones' memory cards, and can be undated wirelessly, Symantec said in a statement.

"Small form factor devices as well as PCs need to be protected, and so will 3G phones," said Robert Clyde, Symantec's vice president and chief technology officer..

"Nokia is an acknowledgement of the high importance of this," he said.

Japan's biggest carrier, NTT DoCoMo is investing heavily in Symbian OS. In December 2003, the operator announced that it was giving YEN 37 billion (US$349 million at the time) to Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric, Motorola Japan, NEC, Panasonic Mobile Communications and Sharp to develop mobile phones with the operating system.

Fujitsu was first Japanese company to launch a Symbian-based 3G handset in the domestic market when it put its F2051 model on sale its in early 2003.

More Japanese makers are coming out with Symbian-based phones. Mitsubishi and Fujitsu said earlier this year they were working together to produce models with the operating system, and in October, Panasonic said it would be selling its X700 model, based on the Symbian OS and Series 60 platform, in Asia.

Both Thompson and Clyde declined to say which Japanese companies they were talking to and declined to comment on the status of the negotiations.

The push into 3G and smart phones comes as part of the company's recently announced "information integrity" strategy that seeks to arm both enterprises and individuals with early warning of and accurate information about potential threats as well as patches and protection, said Thompson and Clyde.

A series of new products announced over the past week by Symantec will be available in Japan next year, but Thompson and Clyde declined to say when.

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