Rogers Communications, a mobile operator based in Canada, just became the second major carrier to join in on the Rich Communications Service (RCS) messaging fun. The first to do so of course was major US wireless carrier Sprint, which launched its support for Google’s RCS on its Android powered handsets about a month ago. For those not familiar with RCS, it is a specific messaging standard that integrates features such as group chats, sharing of high resolution images, and more into the usual SMS experience.
As explained by Amir Sarhangi, the head of RCS at Google, the tech giant’s collaboration with Rogers should bring enhanced messaging functionalities to the mobile operator’s Android using customers, that is, as long as they download and install the Messenger mobile app from the Google Play Store. By 2017, Rogers has plans to preinstall Messenger as the default messaging app for new handsets powered by the Android mobile operating system.
For several years now, the GSM Association (GSMA) has been trying to encourage wireless carriers to adopt RCS as their new messaging standard. According to the GSMA, RCS will serve as a communications tool that will compete against OTT services like Apple’s iMessage or WhatsApp, platforms that have eroded some of the carriers’ SMS driven earnings. In more ways than one, RCS looks to be the next step in messaging. The enhanced capabilities it brings include an ability to discern when other users are actively composing a message, or when messages are successfully received by recipients.
Google has assembled quite a team for its RCS efforts. Sarhangi, for one, previously served as the chief executive officer and co-founder of Jibe Mobile. Google had acquired Jibe a year ago, and then subsequently took its expertise and experience in the subject of RCS in order to develop a fully functional real world ecosystem for the messaging standard. Of course, in getting that done, Sarhangi and his crew would need the full support of wireless carriers in order to roll out the RCS standard to as many Android mobile users as possible.
And apparently, Google is also thinking beyond Android’s environment when it comes to RCS or messaging in general. Last summer, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, stated that he is looking forward to seeing Android users and iOS users trade messages with each other using an interoperable messaging standard. And as mentioned earlier, this can only be done if wireless carriers get into the program.
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