RCS has been in the works for a few years now, but it’s still not available for the majority of Android users. In a WIRED piece today, a Google executive explains how the RCS rollout hasn’t been sufficient while researchers try to pinpoint where the service will be headed next.
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The primary reason it’s taken so long for Google to gets RCS to the masses has been carriers. Google has partnerships with 43 carriers around the world, but that’s only a mere 5% of the total number. Sanaz Ahari, director of product for consumer and communication offerings at Google says that this progress is exciting, “the reality is the progress hasn’t been sufficient from an end-user perspective.”
Why aren’t carriers jumping on board with RCS? Nick Lane of Mobilesquared, a mobile market research company, says that the financial investment is a major reason. Right as most carriers are putting their focus on moving to 5G technology, Google’s RCS push would cost most carriers millions to fully upgrade from SMS. Vodafone, for example, has started using RCS as it sees the opportunity for monetization.
Drew Rowny, Google’s product lead on messages, also points to Google’s push with RCS through the Google Messages app. That rollout has only launched in the UK and France so far, and it’s helped bring the total number of RCS users to 311 million as of June. By skipping the operators and bringing RCS directly to consumers, Google is putting pressure on carriers to push forward with implementing RCS as Nick Lane further explains:
Google has said we’ll launch our own service, and it’ll get RCS on devices of users on O2, Three and EE. It’s giving them the kick up the arse they need. It’s not something where it’s is RCS is going to happen? RCS is happening. It’s not going to go away now. It is the future. It’s just when does it become the future, when does it become a reality for everyone?
Sanaz Ahari adds that Google will “continue to partner with the ecosystem as they bring their own capabilities online, and be able to seamlessly manage those.” As has been previously mentioned, Google’s end-goal is to replace the “quite outdated SMS” with RCS, “giving them the modern messaging system they expect.”
Of course, Google still hasn’t revealed details about what regions will get its carrier-independent RCS rollout next beyond a “wave of countries” which is coming soon. Nick Lane believes that “ten other European markets” will be coming in the next few months. Beyond that, he considers the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, and Japan as “next in line” with potential “near-total” coverage by the end of 2020. Google didn’t comment on the matter to WIRED.
More on RCS:
- Google says RCS chat is fully rolled out in UK and France, more countries soon
- Android prepping more RCS APIs for OEMs, not third-party apps
- RCS Chat hands-on: Not yet iMessage for Android, but it’s a solid start [Video]