The Hamlet discord

It is about time that the Middle East industry made some time for open and honest discussion, in the interests of learning about each other and eventually, improving products and solutions.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  July 23, 2007

There is an old saying which goes that an argument has not ended unless you have convinced your adversary of your views or have had to bow your own thoughts to his/her superior logic.

There are not too many people who live by old sayings any more. Truth to be told, there are not too many people who are even willing to have a full-bodied argument.

Recently, McAfee sent out a statement on Symantec's recent launch of its Endpoint Protection products, codenamed Hamlet. In the statement, McAfee said that the company had been shipping a competing product - Total Protection Suite with ePolicy Orchestrator - for some time now. The company accused Symantec of "being late to the game with the oft-delayed Hamlet, which has yet to move beyond trial availability."

This is rather unusual, especially in the Middle East. Vendors rarely bring out accusatory statements against competitors, however bad their rivalry, especially without a specific and explicit misdemeanour being conducted against them by the said competition.

Personally, I like confrontation and argument. I believe that the two, when employed in the right measures and on the right subject, can bring forth new ideas that have the potential to, if not alter our thinking, at least leave us with new knowledge.

It was for this reason, that following the receipt of this statement, I attempted to put together a face-to-face meeting of McAfee and Symantec spokespeople in the UAE. My reasoning for the meeting was that instead of doing a back-and-forth between the two companies trying to put their reciprocal thoughts together, it would be better to get them into one room and argue the whole matter out, albeit with me as moderator-cum-spectator.

While McAfee agreed almost instantly to put up a spokesperson - technical or otherwise - for the session, Symantec came back with a firm ‘no, thank you'. While there were a few unofficial considerations, the company did not provide an official statement on why they would not be putting up a spokesperson for the combined meeting, in spite of my requests.

To be fair, when a mutually convenient time could not be set for a telephone conversation, Symantec did send in e-mail responses to questions that were sent across - though they certainly don't come close to the depth of answers that would have been possible in a live meeting. (There will be a detailed analysis of the McAfee-Symantec disagreement over Hamlet in a forthcoming issue of NME).

There are several possible reasons for Symantec refusing to put up a spokesperson for the meeting with McAfee; but since there is no official statement your guess is as good as mine. However, I must say that I am rather disappointed with the company for turning down the offer to meet.

Call me old fashioned, but I certainly was looking forward to a good, two-hour session of the merits and demerits of the two companies' competing solutions. In an industry that teeters on paranoia, where every word is uttered only after it has been scanned thoroughly for possible multiple meanings and where everybody has trained themselves to speak marketing lingo even in their most unguarded moments the appearance of such a discord was like a breath of fresh air.

Don't get me wrong - am not encouraging a fist fight to prove one's point. However, I believe that it is essential for experts and solution providers in the industry to air their views more honestly, and be ready to take a bit of criticism when it is due, for the sake of learning something new and eventually improving efficiencies and product capabilities.

And of course, have some good old fun in the bargain, arguing each other's points till the cows come home!

Do you not agree with my views? Write to sathya.ashok@itp.com if you believe you can hold up your end of an argument on whether or not the Middle East industry needs a lot more open discussion.

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