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antivirus software companies

shady customer acquisition or crazy idea?

6:05 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've heard that before - computer viruses being supported by manufacturers of anti virus software.

Conspiracy? No problem.

But I came across something similar in concept where I got a few hints.

A site that sells pirated copies of software is being advertised in AdWords. The price is lower than at product owner's site, or at affiliate sites that promote products of that brand.

By typing the site's URL in any search engine, several results on the first page point to forum and review sites where many people complained about it, pointing out that they got invalid activation numbers.

The interesting finding for me was that some people mentioned how the brand owner's support was really kind in issuing a valid activation number for free, and they were very generous in kind words, etc.

Now, anyone who gets ripped off in that way would certainly be very appreciative if product manufacturer kicks in and saves the day.

But in this case, I filed a complaint with both brand owner and Google on several occasions and the ad is still up there rocking the space.
The brand owner confirmed the site promotes bad copies of the software.
Site is hosted in U.S., run by some folks or an individual from Singapore.

I believe that both ads and site itself would be brought down within the day - if there is a true will to bring it down.

But somehow it looks that nobody is losing money there - a promoter, nor ad service provider, nor brand owner. Just my feeling.

Is it possible that a big brand would go this route to get additional customers by "fishing" in this way - by catching those that opt for a lowest price which bites them - then by saving them out from the trouble?
Not that they deliberately created this site and supported it, but simply figured they should leave it out there for now.

I'm aware of such scenarios when about governments and mafia, so why not in a corp world which is full of "white" mobsters.

Should I go to bed? ;)
6:19 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I can definitely see where this could happen. Either they planned it or kind of stumbled into it.

Side Note: the 'pirated' aspect can be seen as a marketing tool. A little part of me thinks, "if people go to the trouble of offering a pirated version, and there is a demand, it must be a worthwhile product".
6:34 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You should not go to bed, you are not the only one that thinks about this.
It's like in pharmaceutical products: they release swine flu, they release the vaccine. Cash is flowing. Simple as that. :D
7:46 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Could it not be that the pirate is merely a strawman for the real company ?

I cannot imagine a company giving out free activation keys for copies of their own pirated software without getting paid in one way or another, they might just as well make it freeware then.
9:06 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Highly cynical thinking, yet highly plausible... I wouldn't be surprised to hear such tactics are actually being employed.

It protects the main market (full retail price), while opening up a second stream of revenue by selling to a group who would normally not be able to afford (or want to spend) the advertised price. Yet, it creates goodwill to the consumer who got burned. Possibly making that group more likely to purchase a next version through the primary channel...

You do the math :)