Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has partnered with the world’s largest mobile operators in a bid to create a service that will replace SMS. The partners include Orange SA (NYSE:ORAN), Sprint Corp (NYSE:S), Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD), and T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS) owner Deutsche Telekom.
The search giant will make its messaging technology accessible to standardize the utilization of RCS (Rich Communications Services). Nick Fox, VP Google communication products terms this partnership a move forward towards creating an improved messaging experience for all Android users.
The new standard is a significant improvement over SMS. It provides much of what the users expect from chat apps such as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat and others. These include the capability to dispatch larger photos and videos, make group chats, and to view when another user is typing.
Google is in the same position as operators, who view the technology as an opportunity to catch up with OTT (Over the Top) internet messaging services. The operators’ SMS revenues, as well as usage, have decreased as WhatsApp and Messenger have experienced huge growth.
Currently, it’s not clear how RCS will be deployed or if it will operate across all carriers. Although the operators in this have consented to have a single RCS standard that will be supported by Android, it may not happen immediately. Most likely, the operators will transition to an RCS standard that may take a while. Google is putting in efforts to standardize RCS with 19 other mobile operators. It’s also working the GSMA, a group representing hundreds of carriers globally.
RCS has been in existence for a few years now. A combined effort from Google, as well as other carriers, may see it take off. Even if RCS does well, it will struggle to accomplish the carriers’ objective of having a revenue stream to substitute text message charges.
Currently, Google trails in the messaging platform race. Facebook is the leader with almost 2.0 billion monthly active users in Messenger and WhatsApp. Tencent has 1.5 billion active users on QQ Messenger and WeChat. But if Google, makes RCS the default messaging technology for operators globally as well as on its Android smartphones then it could overtake its OTT competitors.