RCS (Rich Communication Services) got a large boost at Mobile World Congress with the announcement from Google that they will support RCS. RCS is essentially SMS/MMS that can work over IP networks and can enable presence and location, and sharing of media. Kind of sounds familiar, except this is an app that is from your service provider, which adds much value to them. It’s available on some newer Androids, but not iPhones. If you have a newer Android, this feature could have value to you. It’s linked to your phone number instead of your identity via some app. This means both parties don’t have to have the same app to talk to each other. It’s like iMessage on the iPhone, but on Android and with more features.
This may not matter if you’re talking to your friends and you both have an app that you like and stay on all the time, but in business settings where that is unlikely and hard to coordinate, RCS will be very useful. It’s all about the different use cases.
This battle for the phone number versus your identity on an app is really about, and will shape, the entire future of telecommunications. But that’s a whole other subject worthy of many words and future blogs.
It’s important to remember that RCS is not some new invention that has come about to battle the big bad OTT guys, but has been around for some time. That’s because with the new IP networks, the industry recognized there needed to be ways to message on them. There has only been limited success to date, however. If you go to the Wikipedia link I hyperlinked to at the beginning of this blog, you’ll see that there is only a modicum of service providers supporting RCS today. Remember though, part of that reason is because the phones need to support RCS and there have been few to date. That will change when the new Androids hit the market. Another part of the reason, obviously, is because there are messaging apps that run on the data networks, the so-called OTT apps. So the general thinking is no one really needs another one.
With this as a background, enter the Google announcement. Obviously, Google has an interest here because they have an interest in Androids and they also know that the future of telecommunications involves the battle for the phone number versus app identity. So they are out to stop Apple and WhatsApp and that crowd. And what better way to do that than force an alliance with the phone numbers, and offer the Android RCS client (called Jibe) for free?
This is a 3-part blog series on RCS - Read parts 2 and 3:
Part 2 - Is the RCS Re-Invigoration just more HYPE???
Read why Joyn, GSMA's branding of RCS, didn't work out back in 2012, what's different about RCS this time around, and speculation about whether RCS will stick.
Part 3 - RCS Re-Invigoration Reality
Jim Machi has speculated about a RCS reinvigoration in part 1 and 2. Here's the reality of where RCS is now, and a realistic view of where it's going.