Published On: Thu, Feb 16th, 2017

Google inks third carrier, Telenor, to the Android RCS messaging play

Another mobile carrier, Telenor, has partnered with Google to hurl out a next-gen SMS tech — this time targeting Android users in Europe and Asia.

The aim with a Rich Communications Services (aka RCS) record in ubiquitous is to bring an enhanced messaging knowledge for SMS users — enabling iMessage-style facilities such as organisation chats, review profits and typing indicators, and high-res print sharing.

The season of a tech Google is concerned with integrates a possess Messenger app into a local SMS app to move upgraded local messaging facilities to newer Android handsets.


Late final year this flavor of RCS tech was rolled out to Android hardware using the Sprint and Rogers‘ networks, in a US and Canada — with Sprint being Google’s first conduit partner in a initiative.

Telenor’s coverage footprint includes countries such as India and Thailand, as good as mixed European nations, and it has some 214 million mobile subscribers in all — so it’s a biggest strike nonetheless in potential strech for Google’s initiative.

That said, a company still has a really prolonged approach to go if it’s anticipating to build extensive subsidy for its effort to ascent Android users’ knowledge of SMS opposite a board.

Almost a year ago, Mountain View announced a corner bid with mobile carriers to lift a next-gen SMS standard, with a devise to embody an RCS-messaging customer in Android.

Although it’s also been adult to particular carriers to get on house and capacitate a tech for their networks, which underlines a scale of a fragmentation plea for Google/Alphabet here, given how carriers do tend to prioritize their possess competing blurb interests, rather than descending in step with Google’s. (Whereas Apple’s sealed iOS ecosystem some-more easily sidesteps such issues.)

In fact carriers indeed started working on RCS a decade ago, with a thought of improving SMS opposite a board. Yet according to information from mobile attention organisation a GSMA, there are usually around 50 carriers globally with RCS launched during this point, travelling 37 countries and ancillary 156 devices. (And, to be clear, a lion’s share of those rollouts are also comparison iterations on a RCS standard — i.e., not a newer, Google-backed play with a Android RCS-messaging customer on board.)

In 2015 Google clearly got sleepy of watchful around on a sidelines for carriers to get a collective messaging act together — appropriation a dilettante in a standard, Jibe Mobile, to, in a words, “help move RCS to a tellurian audience”. Or rather to try to convince carriers of a advantages of aligning with a cross-network Android-to-Android next-gen SMS messaging strategy.

Progress so distant on that goal? The three carriers listed in this article. Though a association says it will have some-more RCS launches in a “coming months”, and related news to announce during a Mobile World Congress tradeshow holding place after this month — so some-more operators are presumably going to be combined to that total soon.

Either way, Google remains a very, very prolonged approach divided from its sought for finish of carrying a extensive aspirant to iMessage baked into Android users’ SMS knowledge out of a box. The farrago of a Android ecosystem creates any push for standardizing enhanced native messaging facilities a Sisyphean struggle.

And even where carriers determine to hurl out a season of RCS, as Telenor now has, a initiative relies on existent subscribers to their networks carrying a Google Messenger app already on their phone in sequence to get a refurbish automatically (via an refurbish to that app). Or else installing the Messenger app in future.

Google said today that as partial of its partnership with Telenor “many” new Android inclination will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as a default SMS and RCS messaging app. But many =/= all. So a RCS play is also being hamstrung by a singular pool of concordant devices.

Safe to say, a lot of players will need to be in it for a prolonged transport if Android is to summit this ‘better local messaging’ mountain.

Meanwhile, over-the-top mobile messaging app giants like Facebook-owned WhatsApp — that has some-more than one billion monthly active users for a richly featured messaging height — continue to cannibalize SMS and lift users away from local messaging clients. Meaning all this bid competence finish adult being rather ‘too little, too late’ in any case.

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