Anti-virus firm AVG partners with China's ZTE to provide protection for its Android smartphones

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 5:16pm

Chinese electronics maker ZTE has announced a partnership with a major online security firm in Europe to provide anti-virus protection for its smartphones and tablets.

Under the terms of the deal, Shenzhen-based ZTE’s Android-based devices will now come with AVG's mobile anti-virus suite pre-installed for a 60-day free trial.

This is the first major foray into the Chinese market for AVG, a Czech company that has more than 200 monthly active users on its desktop and mobile anti-virus apps, mainly in the US and Europe. 

"For many of us, our smartphones have become the primary device that we spend most time with, but ensuring mobile security can sometimes be an afterthought," said ZTE business manager Wang Xuemi. 

"There's huge momentum in the adoption of mobile services in key emerging markets. The flipside of this growth is that it attracts attention [from hackers]," said David Ferguson, AVG senior vice president. 

More than 16 million mobile devices were infected with malware in 2014, according to a report published in February by telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent. It warned that users' location, private data and communications were at risk. 

Android devices had caught up with Windows laptops in terms of malware attack numbers, the report found, as owners of mobile devices had failed to take the necessary security precautions. 

There's huge momentum in the adoption of mobile services in key emerging markets. The flipside of this growth is that it attracts attention [from hackers]
David Ferguson

ZTE's deal with AVG comes amid intensifying competition in the Chinese smartphone market. This week, Nubia was spun off by parent company ZTE and renamed Nubia Technology as part of a rebranding campaign to tap the higher end of the market.

Meanwhile, ZTE hopes to gain an edge by shoring up its security status. Its new deal also spells good news for AVG as global anti-virus software makers have struggled to gain a foothold in the large Chinese market in the past.

In the middle of last year, US-based Symantec and Russia’s Kasperksy Lab were removed from a list of approved software vendors by the Chinese government. 

This occurred in the context of Beijing encouraging domestic firms not to rely on foreign providers amid cybersecurity concerns triggered by revelations of US government spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. 

At the same time, China officially approved the use of domestic vendors including Qihoo 360, the country’s market leader for consumer anti-virus software. 

Qihoo has 509 million monthly active users on desktop and mobile, according to its most recent annual report. Total users of its smartphone security product have jumped 60 per cent since 2013.