For the vast majority of users, at least, the current model of paying for and installing separate online security software products for each device, OS and transaction environment is on the way out. It has to die.
Why? Look at the way the kids use Google, and then look to the future.
Increasingly, users expect to be able to communicate and transact across a variety of devices. And younger users - the very people who use laptops, smartphones and public internet terminals - have less concept of the various operating systems and operating environments they use. Put bluntly: they don't care, they just want to get online, all the time.
Give it a year or two, then, and today's students and stoners will be spending hard cash online via a variety of devices as a matter of course. Particularly if companies like MySpace finally get music downloads right, and the kids start paying for their kicks. Cash attracts criminals, but the current model of shelling out 50 quid to protect a Windows PC against malware signatures isn't going to cut it. Not my sentiments, those of Symantec bigwig Con Mallon.
Mallon believes that in the 'next two years' security software will become platform neutral. He said that Symantec's job is to get its Norton products to "secure access on and off the net" so the set-and-forget it crew can expand their software use without compromising security.
Using the fact that Norton Internet Security 2009 now supports Firefox, I suggested that at some point Symantec would need to go cross platform and embrace Mac OS X, and bring the currently pay-for Norton smartphone product into the NIS bundle. Mallon agreed, suggesting that the move away from Windows-based desktop computing and into a multi-platform cloud-computing world represented a challenge, but a"new opportunity that will take a lot more work" for Symantec.
Of course, what no security company will say on the record right now is that the mobile security threat is really only in its infancy. Most of the mobile malware that exists is proof of concept. Kaspersky, for instance, is happy to offer its mobile product for free to some users, in order to boost its community for future cloud applications. And the most compelling reason for mobile phone security software is so you can brick the thing when you lose it down the pub.
But the threat is coming. So expect NIS 2012 and its rivals to be a very different beast from the current release.