Google inks third service, Telenor, to its Android RCS messaging play


One other cellular service, Telenor, has partnered with Google to roll out a next-gen SMS tech — this time focusing on Android customers in Europe and Asia.

The goal with the Wealthy Communications Providers (aka RCS) know-how normally is to convey an enhanced messaging expertise for SMS customers — enabling iMessage-style options reminiscent of group chats, learn receipts and typing indicators, and high-res picture sharing.

The flavour of the tech Google is concerned with integrates its personal Messenger app into the native SMS app to convey upgraded native messaging options to newer Android handsets.


Late final yr this taste of RCS tech was rolled out to Android  utilizing the Dash and Rogers‘ networks, in the US and Canada — with Sprint being Google’s first service associate within the initiative.

Telenor’s protection footprint consists of international locations reminiscent of India and Thailand, in addition to a number of European nations, and it has some 214 million cellular subscribers in all — so it’s the most important bump but in potential attain for Google’s initiative.

That stated, the corporate nonetheless has a really lengthy strategy to go if it’s hoping to construct complete backing for its effort to improve Android customers’ expertise of SMS throughout the board.

Nearly a yr in the past, Mountain View introduced a joint effort with cellular carriers to push the next-gen SMS commonplace, with a plan to incorporate an RCS-messaging consumer in Android.

Though it’s additionally been as much as particular person carriers to get on board and allow the tech for his or her networks, which underlines the dimensions of the fragmentation problem for Google/Alphabet right here, given how carriers do are inclined to prioritize their very own competing business pursuits, quite than falling consistent with Google’s. (Whereas Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem extra simply sidesteps such points.)

In actual fact carriers really began engaged on RCS a decade in the past, with the concept of enhancing SMS throughout the board. But in accordance with information from cellular trade affiliation the GSMA, there are solely round 50 carriers globally with RCS launched at this level, spanning 37 international locations and supporting 156 units. (And, to be clear, the lion’s share of these rollouts are additionally older iterations on the RCS commonplace — i.e., not the newer, Google-backed play with the Android RCS-messaging consumer on board.)

In 2015 Google clearly obtained bored with ready round on the sidelines for carriers to get a collective messaging act collectively — buying a specialist in the usual, Jibe Cellular, to, in its phrases, “help bring RCS to a global audience”. Or quite to attempt to persuade carriers of the advantages of aligning with a cross-network Android-to-Android next-gen SMS messaging technique.

Progress to date on that purpose? The three carriers listed on this article. Although the corporate says it can have extra RCS launches within the “coming months”, and associated information to announce on the Cellular World Congress tradeshow going down later this month — so extra operators are presumably going to be added to that tally quickly.

Both method, Google stays a really, very great distance away from its hunted for vacation spot of getting a complete competitor to iMessage baked into Android customers’ SMS expertise out of the field. The variety of the Android ecosystem makes any push for standardizing enhanced native messaging encompasses a Sisyphean wrestle.

And even the place carriers conform to roll out its taste of RCS, as Telenor now has, the initiative depends on current subscribers to their networks having the Google Messenger app already on their cellphone with a view to get the replace routinely (through an replace to that app). Or else putting in the Messenger app in future.

Google stated in the present day that as a part of its partnership with Telenor “many” new Android units will include Messenger for Android preloaded because the default SMS and RCS messaging app. However many =/= all. So its RCS play can be being hamstrung by a restricted pool of suitable units.

Protected to say, a variety of gamers will must be in it for the lengthy haul if Android is to summit this ‘better native messaging’ mountain.

In the meantime, over-the-top cellular messaging app giants like Fb-owned WhatsApp — which has multiple billion month-to-month lively customers for its richly featured messaging platform — proceed to cannibalize SMS and pull customers away from native messaging shoppers. That means all this effort would possibly find yourself being quite ‘too little, too late’ in any case.


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Désiré LeSage


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