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Symantec folds nine Norton products into one service

A single product, Norton Security, can be used across Windows, OS X, Android and iOS

Symantec will consolidate its cluttered Norton line of security software, folding nine products into one online service that can be used across desktop computers and mobile devices.

The product, in beta now, will simply be called "Norton Security" and cost $79 a year when it goes on sale in North America on Sept. 23, said Gerry Egan, senior director of product management. It replaces Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus and Norton360, among others.

Symantec, one of the largest security vendors, has been working for more than a year to revise its product line as it faces strong competition in the low-margin consumer antivirus business.

Over the years, Symantec added new products as new threats emerged, but people had trouble figuring out which product was the right one for them.

"What we realized was we actually ended up confusing a lot of customers," Egan said.

While Norton Security will still be sold in retail stores, Symantec is bolstering its website as an entry point as that sales channel offers healthier returns for the company over others, Egan said. Symantec is also withdrawing from some of the deals that saw its software pre-installed on computers.

Overall, Symantec has aimed to make Norton Security an easy-to-manage online service along the lines of Netflix or iTunes. The user interface has been improved for simpler device management.

Consumers can sign up for a Norton Security online account and then download the appropriate product for Windows or Apple OS X computers, or Android or iOS mobile devices.

There will be a limit on the number of devices that Norton Security can be used on. The limit hasn't been determined yet, Egan said, but it will aim to prevent abuse and should be appropriate for most customers, he said.

Norton Security has the usual antivirus, antispyware and spam monitoring functions. Symantec will offer a cloud-based backup feature as an option.

Pricing for the backup feature hasn't been set yet, but Egan said it will be generally the same as in other Norton products, starting around $10 for 25 GB of storage.

Customers on versions of Norton due to be retired won't be forced off the old products, although Symantec will encourage them to move to the latest version, Egan said.

Egan said Symantec expects to release Norton Security in Europe around early October and then later in Asia Pacific.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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