Avast Claims Single Pro License Installed 774,651 Times Around The Globe

from the that's-a-lot dept

In yet another case of a copyright holder turning “piracy” into publicity, security firm Avast has been making some news after watching a single pro license apparently “go viral” on file sharing sites, leading it to be installed 774,651 times around the globe. The company is claiming it’s been installed in 200 countries — including two computers in Vatican City. Of course, this might raise some skepticism, because depending on who you talk to there are fewer than 200 countries in the world (though, others claim there are more — so… who knows). Either way, it does appear that Avast has turned the whole thing into a publicity stunt, both with the press coverage, and popping up a note on those 774,561 installs, urging people to switch to legit versions (including the company’s popular free version).

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Comments on “Avast Claims Single Pro License Installed 774,651 Times Around The Globe”

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Michael Longsays:

The trouble with quibbles...

Of all of the things to quibble over… Mike is actually trying to refute their numbers based on country codes?

How about facts instead? There are 239 current ISO 3166 Country Codes USED BY COMPUTER AND DATABASE SYSTEMS. Plus dozens more that have been deleted or are in transition.


And that’s not even counting any that might have been entered or reported to their system incorrectly.

Hey Mike, why don’t you contact them and get some facts, instead of simply making fun of numbers it’s clear that you don’t understand anyway.

Re: The trouble with quibbles...

How about facts instead? There are 239 current ISO 3166 Country Codes USED BY COMPUTER AND DATABASE SYSTEMS. Plus dozens more that have been deleted or are in transition.

And if you actually looked at them, you’d realize that many of them are not actually for countries, but territories, and some are for places that have no residents.

I linked to the explanation of how many actual countries there are. It’s a lot more complex than how many “country codes” there are.

it’s clear that you don’t understand anyway.

I always know when I’m right: it’s when people claim I don’t understand something.

Michael Longsays:

Re: Re: The trouble with quibbles...

And if your computer system is in one of those places, it will no doubt use one of those codes to indicate such.

Over the years, they probably have over 200 such locations reported and stored in their database, and did a database query to count them. Or would you been happier if they’d said, “over 200 countries, territories, and locations, including a few countries that have been renamed, and some that no longer exist?”

Feel better now?

Regardless, you’re quibbling over a simple technicality in what, for you, is an extremely lame attempt to discredit them and their findings. I really expect better from you.

Software Piracy Business Intelligence

This type of data is critical to software vendors confronting unlicensed use of their products. Trying to attack the piracy distribution channels can only yield Pyrrhic victories, but identifying the businesses that are actually using software without paying for it gives vendors the data they need to make the most informed decisions on how to address the problem.

Vendors can analyze the data and see which geographies require a stronger presence, the actual size of their piracy problem, the license revenue recovery opportunity, which businesses they should pursue for license revenue recovery, etc.

If a business is using unlicensed software it has made a decision that of all the solutions on the market (“free” or not), this one works best for them – they are a customer in every sense of the word except the most obvious: they haven’t paid for it. If vendors can identify these businesses, they can reach out and offer them a real customer relationship complete with support, training, feature requests, and other added value.

I’ve blogged about this here – please let me know what you think:

Michael Goff
V.i. Labs


Re: Re: Software Piracy Business Intelligence

businesses are pretty annoying creatures. Many of them are willing to shell out tons of cash for products that do them no good at times. Other times they go cheapo depot.

If the business wasn’t going to buy your product anyways then… no loss.

If the business is made aware that they could get better support for their products by paying a software fee which is far below normal and they go for that… then you just made money you would not have made anyways.

Re: Re: Software Piracy Business Intelligence

Many businesses would (and do) pay when approached by the vendor. If the business depends on a specific application, it’s providing them with value, they’ve invested in processes around the use of the application, etc., it is hard to switch to an alternative (free or paid). Keep in mind that when the business made the original decision to use that application, it had all of the other free/unlicensed alternatives to choose from as well. Of course, businesses do switch applications over time, but there can be significant cost to doing so (time, effort, training, new/revised processes, etc.)


Some people converted

The first article I saw on this said that at least some of the people who used the pirated copy converted over to paid before Avast took any action.

Global marketing is expensive and nearly impossible for a small company. Avast saw what happened as a marketing opportunity. That seems like it would be a more profitable approach than the approaches taken by some other companies and organizations.



If they asked (not mandated) those using the pirated license to make a donation and allowed them to keep using the software, they’d probably make MUCH more than they would by trying to shut those folks down or ‘convert’ them to paying customers. “Oh shit, they’re asking me to buy it. I’m switching to the illegal downloaded version of Norton instead”

With all the free avast alternatives out there (even avast itself) it’s kind of interesting to me that so many people are pirating the ‘pro’ version anyway.

Personally I find myself MUCH more willing to donate to useful free products online than to pay ridiculous prices in order to be a ‘privileged’ retail customer (who will inevitably have to pay again for a new version when the next major release comes out)


It's a strategy

You nailed it. They did this on purpose for the publicity.

I worked for a software company that intentionally named a product too similar to one offered by Microsoft. They counted on Microsoft filing a trademark lawsuit in order to get PR from the lawsuit. It was a marketing strategy.

To their credit, Microsoft never filed that lawsuit. Our product eventually died.


This was a great viral marketing campaign for avast.

Around 770,000 user systems are/were sending mutiples of emails daily with a footer message with a web link direct to http://www.avast.com/ as follows;

avast! Antivirus: Outbound message clean.
Virus Database (VPS): 9/12/2010
Tested on: 10/12/2010 7:51:19 AM
avast! – copyright (c) 1988-2010 AVAST Software.

Avast chose to let this run for almost 18mths and then gloat about how many pirated copies they “detected”. Who’s fault is that?

Running a sting operation such as this does not help their credibility as reputable software vendor.


Re: This was a great viral marketing campaign for avast.

How was that a sting operation? Sure, they left up a way to find the pirated versions, but they aren’t going after the users. Instead of freaking out and giving themselves bad PR by attacking people, they are just encouraging people to switch.

If anything, Avast’s response to this should be the model for all companies to react to piracy. Work with the people, rather than against the people.

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