October 10, 2016

What Is RCS Rich Communication Services?

By Max Azarov

Rich Communication Services

As a cloud service provider operating in emerging markets, we’re excited about the possibilities of rich communication services (RCS) offered by mobile carriers.

You may remember, in the era before smartphones (and a bit after the launch), SMS ruled the mobile messaging landscape. There were no over-the-top (OTT) messaging platforms to compete with text-based mobile chatting and mobile carriers placed a premium on text messaging amounts.

And then came WhatsApp, LINE, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Kakao, and Skype (among many others). All of a sudden, mobile carriers saw customers place less of a premium on SMS and data became the real breadwinner.

So why does the development of a chat platform excite a white label cloud service provider?

Simply put, RCS may be the messaging platform, but cloud is where the chats can be stored, backed up and accessed. If RCS is on the rise, we feel that cloud is going to be right there with it in the search for the perfect 4G bundle. Given that mobile carriers are involved in implementation of RCS, we feel that the cloud capabilities to accompany it are up for grabs.

Rich Communication Services

So when Google announced last February that they had signed with the GSMA and mobile carriers around the world to develop an RCS for Android, we were just as excited about what that meant for the future of cloud on Android phones.

What is RCS you ask?

Think of RCS as SMS on steroids. While SMS lacks a lot of the emoticons, gifs, and video chatting options we typically find on OTT messengers, RCS would allow SMS to compete with similar features.

While early reception to RCS is mixed, when it’s implemented well, users are eager it implement it. T-Mobile’s RCS app, Advanced Messenger came armed with features such as real-time typing display, message delivery reports, and file sharing. After seven months, the US mobile carrier reported over 5.5 million users on the platform.

However, RCS does have a spotty history. Joyn, an RCS app by Jibe, failed to pick up any traction when it launched. While there were many reasons for Joyn’s failures, mainly the fact that while Joyn had potential, it was very poorly executed.

Thankfully, Google bought Jibe in September 2015, signing with the GSMA and mobile carriers globally just 5 months later.

RCS and the Emerging Market

In the first quarter of 2016, Android held the largest mobile market share by a mile with 84.1% of all units sold. And with Android devices sweeping emerging markets, the distance between first place Android and second place iOS looks like it’s only going to get further.

So here we are, with our own service targeting emerging markets, when all of a sudden, the leading device OS manufacturer comes out and says they want to implement a service that will require users to save more data on their existing plans.

RCS presents mobile carriers an opportunity to claim the messaging crown back from the likes of OTT. Putting things in perspective, mobile carriers are expected to earn US$96.7 billion in 2018 from SMS. In 2013, they were making US$120 billion from SMS revenue. You can see clearly the 23.3 billion reasons mobile carriers want to see RCS come to life.

In emerging markets where Android has dominated, RCS could take a healthy bit out of users on LINE, WeChat, Kakao, QQ, and even giants Facebook and WhatsApp. If you take into effect the network effect that OTT messengers benefit from (you download the messenger your friends and intimates use), RCS would benefit in the same vein iMessenger does for iPhones.

So when you factor in the network effect plus the segmentation of the OTT messenger space in emerging markets like Asia, this means Google could penetrate these markets instantly and be the first stop for mobile users with a pre-installed messenger.

Plus White Label Cloud

Looking at our own internal usage statistics for Cloudike personal, we’ve found that about 80% of the files stored are photos. While some users store files just to have backups ready in case of disaster, we would wager that some users store them because of space capacity on their phone.

So here comes RCS with with media sharing capabilities pre-installed on a phone. With Google’s backing, we’ve no doubt that RCS constitutes another source of data to occupy user storage spaces. And what better way for mobile carriers to get in on this action by pushing a white label cloud branded under their own flag to preserve and backup all this beautiful data shared over their network?

Again, we’re excited for RCS…

By Max Azarov

Max Azarov

Max is the President at Cloudike, a white label cloud solution for MSPs and OEMs. With a strong background in software and previous stops at LG and Google, Max envisions cloud as the next big feature for MSPs to offer subscribers.
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