Spam Is Good for Antispam Vendors

Last week, I wrote about Okopipi--the current successor to Blue Security's Blue Frog antispam service. In closing that article, I described a dream situation in which Microsoft philanthropically backs the Okopipi project and bundles the antispam solution with every copy of Windows. This week, I'll point out some statistics and financial figures that show why I think that dream will never become a reality--not with Microsoft or any other major antispam-solution provider.

First, let's look at the cost of spam for businesses: In February 2005, Ferris Research said, "Lost productivity and other expenses associated with spam will cost US businesses $17 billion in 2005.... Worldwide costs could reach $50 billion, primarily because of lost employee productivity. Not included in these figures are immeasurable items, such as the missed opportunity cost of a new customer order that's incorrectly discarded as spam." That's a lot of incentive for businesses to implement antispam solutions.

Next, let's look at antispam-solution revenue figures: Also in February 2005, IDC predicted that "...worldwide revenue for antispam solutions will exceed $1.7 billion in 2008, far surpassing the $300 million generated in 2003.... \[The\] development of spam from a mere nuisance to an increasingly serious problem \[is\] the driver for explosive revenue growth, innovation, and investment in the antispam market. The worldwide revenue for antispam solutions will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% through 2008."

Now let's look at email usage and spam volume growth: In January 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that there were more than 1.2 billion active email accounts. Worldwide email traffic per day was about 135 billion messages, of which 67 percent were spam. Then in May 2006, Radicati estimated that there were nearly 1.4 billion active email accounts and worldwide email traffic per day of about 171 billion messages, of which 71 percent were spam.

Summarizing Radicati's data, the number of mailboxes increased by 200 million, the volume of email traffic increased by 36 million messages, and the volume of spam increased by 31 million messages--all in less than half a year! The increases represent a tremendous gain in potential customers for antispam vendors, which of course can readily equate to huge increases in revenue.

The spam problem has given birth to a billion-dollar market for antispam-solution providers. If we keep in mind that most companies exist for the primary purpose of generating income for their owners and investors, then we can easily see that no current antispam vendor has the impetus to stamp out spam because doing so would run counter to its fiduciary responsibility.

Therefore, the Okopipi project will probably not be seen in a good light by any antispam-solution provider, except of course one that finds a way to profit from the ultimate antispam solution of stamping out spam completely.

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