360 Security Guard has become the largest anti-virus software maker in China.(CFP/file)
For 360 Security Guard, the largest anti-virus software maker in China, the secret to success is this: "We only consider the needs of the user when we design and produce an anti-virus software product. Making money is not our number one priority."
Qi Xiangdong, president of the company, said 360 Security Guard now accounts for 80% of all types of anti-virus software sold on the mainland. "We never run any ads to promote our products. Rather we rely on mouth-to-mouth propagation. As of June of this year, 360's subscribers have surpassed 300 million."
On a recent visit to 360's Beijing-based headquarters, the president said, "Some companies first ask for price in negotiating a contract. Until they get a satisfactory answer, they will not undertake the project. But for us at 360, the first thing we consider is whether the project is of significance."
To find out what Qi Xiangdong means by "significance" it is necessary to go back to 2005, a time when Internet users around the world found their computers hacked by Trojans and other rogue software viruses. Such hacking caused their computer resources to be unnecessarily occupied and their computers to slow down.
However, none of the anti-virus software companies at the time came out to help web users to solve their problems. This was what inspired Qi Xiangdong to create what now is widely known as the 360 Security Guard.
"Previously when a user found his computer had slowed down, he would turn to an anti-virus expert for help. But this often proved futile, because the rogue software was in fact not a virus. That situation changed after we entered the market. We have since helped users to destroy viruses without charging a fee. So we have quickly acquired a good reputation among web users," Qi said.
Qi also commented on why software makers in the past were reluctant to help safeguard Internet security by coming up with effective anti-virus products. He said, "There were simply too many rogue software producers that made it difficult for software makers to upgrade their products in time. Thus making anti-virus software became a loss-making business and this consequently deterred companies from developing new products."
With its rapid growth and expansion, 360's workforce has increased from just more than a dozen when it was founded to nearly 1,000 at present.
Yet if 360 offers its software free of charge, then where does its revenue come from and how does it make a profit? Qi Xiagdong says, "Our story is actually the same as e search engine companies. These companies offer free services. But since they have large numbers of users, they have a powerful channel to market their products in other areas.
As for 360's future development, Qi said that his company is focusing on helping Internet users solve the problem of privacy. In the future "we will not just help users to monitor whether their privacy has invaded. We will also provide users with safety measures to protect their privacy."