General Question

2davidc8's avatar

How do the makers of Avast make money and stay in business?

Asked by 2davidc8 (9701points) April 2nd, 2015

Referring to the anti-virus product Avast:
The basic version is free, and I would think that is all most people would need. I can’t imagine enough people buying the upgrades with the additional bells and whistles to keep them afloat.
So how do they do it? Do they really keep the product updated and up-to-the-minute? I think this would be critical in an anti-virus product.

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5 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

People do buy the premium version. Has to do with professional support in case there are problems.
They also have a line of products for businesses, and they definitely buy the products and service contracts.

jerv's avatar

Like @ragingloli said, there are enough people buying the premium versions to more than pay the bills.

Thing is, not all software is about business or money making. In fast, some of the best software isn’t. Canonical, the people behind Ubuntu, get a little money from sales of enterprise-level services, but most of the reason they can afford to exist is that they are a “pet project” of Mark Shuttleworth. In truth, Canonical operates at a loss…. but they operate. If you have a very wealthy person who honestly believes in something, then you can afford to stay in business no matter what. Look at Tesla and SpaceX.

And even then, there are many programmers who will “do the right thing” and write this sort of software for free. Think about it; the more computers that are infection-free, the lower the odds of you getting infected yourself, so if you write and distribute a piece of anti-malware software, you’re protecting yourself anyways.

But it’s not like to costs much to distribute software anyways. With no discs to write, no manuals to print, and no boxes to ship, overhead costs are pretty damn low to begin with. And if you allow your employees to telecommute, you don’t need an office either, so you save on real estate, and the accompanying taxes and utilities costs. All you really need to pay for is employees and a little hardware and you’re good to go… especially if the employees are actually volunteers.

There are many things about computers that break from preconceived notions, and business models are one of the many things that computers have changed. Where is cyberspace anyways? Does it follow national borders or not? How can one steal something when the rightful owner never lost possession of the original? In order to understand how software companies can stay in business, one must understand that software is more like ethereal art than it is like tangible goods and alter their other paradigms accordingly.

Kraigmo's avatar

The business model of a permanent basic freebie and a deluxe product that costs money is a great business model.
Avast and AVG make money through their paid service as well as on search clicks when you go to a broken website and arrive at their DNS based search engine.
The military shooter game Crossfire is amazingly generous to free players who are given a huge choice of free guns, free uniforms, and other extras. The more you play, the more they give you. They make money selling their best guns and sharpest uniforms to players willing to pay. But free players still have a great shot at winning the game.

Firefox makes the majority of its money from Yahoo. (Formerly from Google). By sticking up that default Yahoo search engine, Yahoo pays them tens of millions of dollars annually.

I think more businesses should embrace the free-for-all with paid options model. It’s the kind of capitalism that helps everyone.

jerv's avatar

@Kraigmo I think more businesses should embrace the free-for-all with paid options model. It’s the kind of capitalism that helps everyone.

I agree, but I think it’d be hard to do outside of information. I mean, Cory Doctorow does a similar thing with books; he gives his stories away if you want to download them, and only charges if you want one that generated overhead costs like printing, binding and shipping. But what works for literature, movies, music, and software doesn’t cross over too well into the physical world.

Fortunately, unlike the pre-internet days, much of what people consume is information, making it financially feasible to operate that way. And with 3D printers, you can download a car.

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