On mobile phones and spam

Over complicated minds

Forrester Research recently published a forecast and analysis of European Mobile messaging growth, writes Bob McDowall of Bloor Research. The analyst firm forecasts that Short message services will peak and basically plateau in 2004 and years beyond, and forecasts 100 per cent compound annual growth in enhanced message services, multimedia message services, instant message services and e-mail using next generation phones in 2004 and beyond.

Much of this will be generated through direct marketing now being adopted by more large multinational beyond the communications sector. Much of this will be unsolicited; much of it is really nothing more than spam.

Spam may be an irritation when delivered to the PC/laptop via the Internet but it is even more irritating when delivered to the mobile phone, an instrument of continual torture to many of its business users in particular. Of most concern is that the benefits of advances in mobile technology will be tarnished by their association with its main uses.

Various national legal regimes are trying to control Spam. The variations of opting in or opting out by the recipient user are somewhat cumbersome efforts by legislators to address the issues of Spam. Such initiatives tend to become embroiled in debates over privacy/ freedom of information/security and are then complicated by the overcomplicated minds of the legal profession, politicians and those who delight in the abstractions of rights and duties.

The most expedient course of action would be initiatives taken by the providers of the mobile technology. For example in Japan DoCoMo is limiting the number of text messages which a user can send. Others mobile providers are seeking to deploy filtering services on their appliances to defeat the growth of spam. Vodafone for example will also provide a feature to forward spam to regulators or complaint authorities.

These initiatives are both socially responsible and may ensure that the technology benefits are not cannibalised or debased by those who have a very singular use or application for the technology.

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