Norton Plans to Go Beyond the PC
Symantec's Norton product line has been all but synonymous with utilities designed to fix PC problems since Peter Norton himself wrote some of the first utilities shortly after the IBM PC was released in 1981. Now the company's announcing a big initiative to bring its software and services to devices other than Windows PCs and Macs-phones, set-top boxes, and just about anything else that connects to the Internet. It's calling its plans Norton Everywhere, and they involve a variety of new releases.
Today's Norton is best known for its security products, but Symantec isn't contending that malware presents a major threat to post-PC devices-at least not yet. So Norton Everywhere involves a bunch of different offerings designed to give people more control over their data and gear.
The initiative is kicking off with:
Norton Connect. This is a utility for iPhones and Android handsets, that provides access to files backed up using Norton Backup on PCs and Macs.
Norton Security for Android. Another Android app-one that does include a malware scanner, but also has a remote wipe utility that lets you destroy data on a lost or stolen phone, a call-blocking utility, and a program to prevent you from accidentally incurring roaming charges.
Norton DNS. Symantec will compete with OpenDNS and Google Public DNS by offering a free Domain Name System (DNS) service that you can configure as a substitute for the one used by your broadband ISP and/or wireless carrier. The company is partnering with DNS specialist Dyn to offer the service, and says it'll be faster than default DNS options and will filter out dangerous sites (such as ones infested with malware or used for phishing) and potentially objectionable ones. Since the service sits in between the Internet and Internet-connected devices, it'll work with computers, phones, and anything else that connects to the Internet; Symantec plans to offer configuration utilities for PCs and Android phones when the service launches.
All of the above will be available in June. Symantec also says it'll work with a company called Mocana to put the technologies from Symantec's Live Update service into devices such as smart TVs, game consoles, and e-readers that receive over-the-air firmware updates.
One of the nice things about mobile gizmos and consumer electronics products is that they tend to need less of the troubleshooting, repair work, and general babysitting that's been Norton's stock in trade for so long. That's why earlier attempts by PC utility companies to go beyond the PC usually haven't gone much of anywhere. (Anyone but me remember McAfee's anti-malware for Palm OS from a decade ago?) Symantec's moves aren't super-ambitious, but they sound logical enough. It'll be interesting to see where they go-and may the day never arrive when we need to run Norton 360 on our phones, tablets, and TVs.