Apps will fuel SMS spam surge

Apps may be all the rage in the mobile phone space, but they’ll never kill SMS – in part because more people will be using apps to send text messages in the next few years. 

That’s according to Juniper Research, which states that revenues from application to person (A2P) SMS will top $70 billion (€48 billion) by 2016 – the year A2P starts making more money than traditional person-to-person messages.
Part of the reason for that is the valuation of SMS is getting lower all the time as cellcos offer bucket plans to stay competitive. Also, says Juniper’s Daniel Ashdown, players within the mobile messaging ecosystem will be shifting their strategic focus “from communication between individuals, to sending and receiving service-enabling messages.”
Put another way, it’s SMS broadcast made easier than ever before. Which is undoubtedly handy for users, as well as companies that want to leverage SMS for various services (Juniper lists financial services, advertising, marketing, business administration, ticketing and television voting as potentially hot A2P items), but this also raises another issue: SMS spam.
There was a time when SMS spam was impractical due to costs. That’s been changing as cellcos started offering unlimited bucket plans and web services appeared making it possible to blast text messages to multiple phone numbers on the cheap. Even so, it was jarring when – at a recent GSM Asia-Pacific conference – Alan Ranger, Cloudmark’s mobile marketing VP, said spammers are turning from email to SMS because there’s more money in it.
Also, SMS spam is more likely to reach recipients. Spam accounts for 99% of all emails sent, but the filtering technology (whether at the ISP level, the client level or the web-service level) is so good that 98% of that spam never makes it to your inbox.
SMS spam filtering is more primitive by comparison, in part because it’s not always easy to identify, and users often don’t have a way to easily report spam to cellcos. Until recently, “report as spam” wasn’t even an option in your SMS menu (and still isn’t, depending on how old your phone is or what model you just bought). Hence the GSMA’s Spam Reporting Service, which is working on a way to make SMS spam reporting easier and give cellcos a way to monitor spam reports in real time and track attack trends as they unfold. 

That will come in handy, since A2P texting is likely to make spam filtering even more of a necessity for cellcos.