Qihoo 360 finally unveiled the English version of its security products for PC and smartphones. Yes, they are for free, as Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo disclosed.
The company disrupted the Internet security market in China in late 2009 by offering everything for free. Now the company claims it has more than 90% a market share and covers roughly 70% of the smartphone security market.
For the sake of market share, other players in the sector, such as Kingsoft and Rising, later decided to stop charging users too. But they didn’t figured out other good revenue sources, while Qihoo built a strong business model. By channeling the security product users to its browsers, Qihoo started making money from ad placements on the default start-up pages and browser games (or web games). More recently, it launched its own search service, So.cn, in August last year and began monetization from early this year. Also taking advantage of its huge user base, So.cn has gained a 15% market share, according to CNZZ, an online data and analysis service.
It’s hard to say how its free security services will perform in the global Internet security market, but Mr. Zhou wanted Qihoo to become the biggest Internet security company worldwide.
NQ Mobile (formerly NetQin), the only Chinese security company that has an international presence, had 42% users from outside China as of the end of 2012. It is said that one of the reasons the company would expand to the international market was to avoid the competition in the domestic.
It seems NQ Mobile sensed challenges in the existing market that Lin Yu, its CEO said on the latest conference call that the company planned to become a platform instead of simply a personal security product provider. In 2012 it set foot in enterprise security products and mobile games by acquiring a game distributor and a mobile enterprise service in China. Earlier this year it bought a controlling stake in a Chinese mobile advertising solution provider. Previously NQ Mobile’s revenues were from paying users based on the freemium model. In Q1 2013, 37% of its total revenues were from none-security services.
Chinese Internet giants seems well aware of the Qihoo’s attempt to go International and ready to prevent the company from dominating the security market and then making inroads into other sectors such as search. NQ Mobile disclosed that they were approached by some Chinese Internet companies with investment offers. It is rumored that Baidu and Tencent are included. The reason that NQ Mobile turned them down, according to the company, was that the offered share prices were lower than expected.