by November 28, 2000 0 comments

Despite all the hype this year and the various technological
innovations, messaging has not really changed that much. There were a few
instances of richer messaging technologies like video mail and voice mail coming
into the picture, but they are all so bandwidth intensive that even on local
area networks they have not caught on.

All this said, I will still say that messaging is king. It
still remains the killer application of the Internet world. This year, estimates
of the number of messages going through the Net are just skyrocketing. By the
end of the year the total number of e-mail messages is estimated to reach a
staggering 10 billion messages per day.

Last year, by the end of the year there were an estimated 569
million e-mail accounts, and by the end of next year there will be almost one
billion e-mail accounts. Estimates for India are also quite bright. At the end
of last year we had over 270,000 users and by the end of 2000, we will have an
estimated 1.5 million users. One thing that was noticed about Internet users in
India was that eight out of 10 calls (dial-up) to an ISP were not for the casual
surfer but by serious e-mail users. So we very much do contribute to the total
global e-mail statistics! In fact, on closer examination one will find that
e-mail usage in India is probably as high as anywhere else in the world, if not
higher. For some reason, technology acceptance in India has been much more rapid
than in other countries.

New technologies

As I said earlier, one of the few new technologies that came
along last year was voice mail. This year with the proliferation of web cams, it
was video mail. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this seemed to be only a passing
phase. Serious users came back to plain and simple text. Video mail is all well
for sending cute recordings of the grandson to his grandparents, but when it
comes down to business, plain text still rules.

One very significant change was the introduction of messaging
from other devices like cellphones and other wireless devices. This saw a
tremendous improvement this year. The most popular form of messaging of this
type is Short Message Service (SMS) provided by several cellular service
providers. Since August this year, almost nine billion SMS messages have been
through the various networks, and with SMS being free or very cheap in several
countries, this figure is shooting up. This year’s estimates have already
started getting revised on a global basis and the figures coming in are quite
amazing–more than 10 to15 billion messages per month is what we will average
by the end of the year. Asia alone contributes more than three billion messages
per month.

Privacy

One major issue this year concerning messaging has been
privacy. More and more users are becoming aware that they need to protect their
messages from prying eyes, whether it be their employers, competitors, or just
someone snooping around. Most of the popular e-mail clients now have plug-ins
for programs like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), the usage of which has definitely
increased this year. Abroad, government agencies were talking about putting
systems to monitor all mail traffic, especially e-mails of known criminals or
suspicious characters. Of course, public opinion is against something like this.

Virus spread

A very serious problem with messaging this year was the
spread of viruses. Starting with the harmless ILOVEYOU things just got worse.
Virus spread via messaging systems could have very easily backfired but it did
not. People have realized how critical messaging is to their business, and
fortunately, viruses have been taken in their stride.

Junk mail

Another serious issue has been that of junk mail, or
unsolicited mail, about all kinds of things finding its way into your inbox and
plaguing you. Yes, a lot many messages from the billions per day have been junk
mail. But unfortunately, very little can be done about that even now. Spam
control and junk mail filters have been set up, but junk is still very much part
of daily life.

All said and done, it has been a very busy year as far as
messaging is concerned. Businesses around the world have realized the potential
of messaging and traffic trends indicate that it has been extensively utilized.

Kishore Bhargava is
the CEO of Linkaxis Technologies

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