Telenor has partnered with Google to roll out the next generation SMS technology. This opportunity is users in Europe and Asia, meaning that Android smartphone users should be ready to see it soon.
The main goal with Rich Communication Services (RCS) technology is to bring a more enriching messaging experience to SMS users. In general it will enable iMessage style features in an Android smartphone which includes group chats, read receipts and typing indicators alongside high resolution picture sharing.
So how this works is by integrating Google’s own tech messenger app into the native SMS app service. In result we have an upgrade of the native messaging app which has features similar to a new Android smartphone. Last year, this RCS technology was made accessible to Android hardware using Sprint and Rogers network in the US and Canada. Sprint was the first carrier partner of the tech company in the new initiative.
Android smartphone RCS tech is dependent on your carrier
Google picked Telenor because of its vast coverage in the region. It has footprints in major countries of the world such as India and Thailand along with many European nations. The figures show that there are 214 million network subscribers. This is a big number for the potential reach Google aims to have with this initiative. Even though the figures appear big there is still a long way for Google to go. In order to build a solid backing for its attempt to upgrade Android user experience of SMS, there is a lot of work to be done across the board.
Mountain view also announced a venture with mobile carriers to push forward the next generation SMS standard. It also included a plan to include RCS messaging client in Android smartphones.
One thing to be noted here is that individual carriers have the option to get on board and enable this tech option for their network. So there are a lot of fragmentation challenges here for Google. Because network carriers tend to prioritize their own commercial interests there is a big gap that Google will need to cover. Apple’s ecosystem is more simpler in sidestepping such issues.
Many mobile carriers had started out working on their RCS many ages ago. It was an initiative to improve SMS across the customer base. However, data by GSMA shows that only 50 carriers on a global scale make use of RCS at this point. It spans out to 37 countries and supports only 156 devices.
Google needs to keep an eye for apps like Whatsapp and Kik which have billions of active users. The customers use the messaging platform alongside SMS service. However, a lot of people prefer these services over the traditional SMS meaning the native messaging clients are going obsolete. Google’s new venture with Telenor might prove a little too late in this case then.
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