US West to Market Net-based eDoctor

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US West is among the first major companies licensed to market eDoctor Global Network in the United States. The online-based anti-virus service product was created by Internet security-services developer Trend Micro Inc., Tokyo.

US West will begin presenting the new service as a value-added offering to home and business customers this month through direct mail marketing and e-mail customer notifications. Additional offers are expected to be fully available in October from Sprint, Kansas City, MO, and Breakwater, Grand Rapids, MI.

"We are initially doing a lot of direct visits with corporate customers," said Eva Chen, chief technology officer with Trend Micro's North American operation in Cupertino, CA. "After that, we establish reference accounts with qualified providers and marketers that deliver e-mail marketing to their existing customers and introduce the product to new customers [by pointing] them to the Web sites of companies that will offer eDoctor."

Network Associates and Symantec are Trend's biggest competitors in the United States for software-based anti-virus products. But Chen said she has yet to see them offer subscription-driven, Internet-based models for anti-virus protection. "Our competitors could have something like this soon, but it will take [at least] a year to do it this way - this is a service launch, not a product launch."

Chen said the overall anti-virus services market is valued at $1.5 billion, with nearly 20 percent of that figure made up of service income from provider businesses.

Computer virus activity has already cost businesses a colossal $7.6 billion in 1999 alone, according to Computer Economics, Carlsbad, CA. And Internet service providers no doubt see big profit opportunities in offering advanced viral protection over their proprietary networks.

According to US West spokesman Andrew Kaufman, "We are rolling out the service as a branded US West anti-virus protection offer. The way it will work for US West customers is they'll pay an added fee each month to have us scan all e-mail before we deliver it to them. We hope to begin offering the service with the license we purchased from Trend, which includes their full globe support, by the end of this month or early October."

US West will make Trend's eDoctor solution initially available as a US West product to about 200,000 business and residential customers. It will charge customers $1.50 above their existing communications packages. There is currently no actual branding of eDoctor planned as a stand-alone product by US West.

"We hope to penetrate 20 percent of our existing marketplace with the new service," Kaufman said. It will first make the product known to US West customers via its proprietary launch page. It plans to bring customers to the site electronically with opt-in communication via e-mail as well as through billing inserts and direct mail.

"What we are looking at focusing on [in the marketing] are the key benefits of the security that our customers expect, as well as a relationship that is strengthened through that security - something the customer values."

Trend said Internet service providers will be able to build the company's eDoctor anti-virus protection directly into their network's infrastructure with the ability to notify both senders and receivers of e-mail that was previously contaminated with strains.

Presumably, those notifications will also be used as shrewd marketing tools as well. As Kaufman summed up US West plans for eDoctor: "Basically, we've got a very aggressive growth rate planned. We will also utilize this as an acquisition tool using direct mail as well as collateral."

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