McAfee aims to localize in China sales push

McAfee will form a new Chinese subsidiary and expand its staff in the country as it looks for new inroads to the local security market, the company said Wednesday.

McAfee plans to double the size of its field sales section next year and launch a new call center partly focused on serving smaller Chinese cities, the company said in a statement. The new wholly-owned subsidiary will change McAfee's legal status in China, opening up new options such as joint ventures and acquisitions of local companies, company CEO Dave DeWalt said at a news conference in Beijing.

"China is one of the greatest market opportunities we see anywhere in the world for security," DeWalt told reporters.

Security vendors like McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro have operated in China for years, but Chinese companies have dominated the market by offering low prices and including virus protection for popular local software in their products. The foreign vendors have been slow to localize their products and secure distribution channels, analysts say.

McAfee's latest moves address those areas. Forming the subsidiary will grant McAfee new regulatory approval options for its products and could affect how it does local manufacturing, said DeWalt. McAfee has also reached new reseller deals with local companies and partnered with PC maker Lenovo to market its products. It promised more such deals.

McAfee estimates the size of its addressable market in China to grow from about US$390 million this year to over $1 billion in 2013.

McAfee wants its division in the country to "act like a true local Chinese company in every way," Steve Redman, McAfee's Asia Pacific president, said at the news event.

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