- An emerging tech standard called Rich Communication Service (RCS) will power Android's next-generation native messaging app. This will give Android smartphone users a more powerful alternative to SMS.
- RCS will enable Google Messenger users to send larger, higher-quality images, as well as share their location information and make video calls by default. Android users currently rely on over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to access these features.
- The strategic implications of Google's embrace of RCS are profound. Boosting the capabilities of Android's native messaging app will help in two key ways:
- It will make Android "stickier." The full benefits of RCS will be available only when both the sender and the recipient are using devices and networks that support it.
- It will improve Android's competitive position. Apple's iMessage and Facebook Messenger already have many of RCS's most important features.
- Adopting RCS will have knock-on effects across the mobile ecosystem. Because Android's user base is so massive, these may be profound and vary from player to player.
- Telecom networks will get access to better exclusive data on users, which will compensate for shrinking revenue from declining SMS volumes.
- Device makers, which will have to incorporate enabling technology into their smartphones, will gain an opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors.
- Developers have already pounced on the opportunity to make "mini" versions of their apps to run within iMessage and Facebook Messenger, and they'll gain access to a much larger potential audience.
- Marketers and brands will get more powerful tools to engage and communicate with customers.
- Despite RCS's potential, it must overcome some hurdles that could hinder its success. Carriers and smartphone makers must invest in networks and devices that support it. And consumers have to buy these devices — not an insignificant feat, considering that upgrade cycles show signs of slowing.
Despite the plethora of new technology being crammed into smartphones and strong growth in video and photo content creation, texting remains at the heart of the smartphone experience. In the US, for instance, messaging was chosen as the most popular smartphone feature by 34% of survey respondents, according to Fluent.
In the past, this has been a segment owned by SMS and a massive revenue generator [...]