This year’s Mobile World Congress marked a significant step forward for RCS Business Messaging, as the rich alternative to SMS builds momentum ahead of its full rollout later this year.
From the show floor it was clear that more brands are now using RCS, more operators are offering it, and more new Android handsets are set to ship with it already integrated as a native feature.
Here are 8 key RCS takeaways we’ve learned in the run-up to, and during this year’s event:
- RCS momentum is growing around the world with over 159 million current active monthly users, according to GSMA Intelligence, a figure that is expected to grow to 350 million by Q4 2018. GSMA Intelligence also estimates that the RCS Business Messaging market will be worth over $74 billion by 2021.
- Just before Mobile World Congress, Google announced that more than 40 carriers and device manufacturers now use its RCS platform (up from 27 this time last year).
- At the event Google was keen to talk up some of its early applications. In the US, household names including Booking.com and Subway are already sending RCS messages to Sprint customers, while in the UK, Barclays, Hermes, British Gas, Pizza Hut Delivery and Foxtons are using RCS on Vodafone.
- In the UK, terrestrial broadcaster ITV (traditionally a heavy user of SMS as part of its flagship shows including I’m a Celebrity, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor) has been trialling RCS and seen growth of between 10-20 per cent in message open-rates. Other live trials include Nissan and ride-sharing application, Uber.
- The RCS ecosystem is growing, as mobile operators get interconnected to provide an open, consistent and global messaging service across networks and devices. América Móvil, Rogers Communications and Sprint have interconnected their networks across the Americas, while in Europe Deutsche Telekom, Telenor Group, Telia Company and Vodafone Group have reached similar agreements, enabling subscribers in these regions to access Rich Communications Services (RCS) across 22 networks in 17 countries.
- In parallel, leading operators including Bell Canada, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US are working on a joint initiative together with Samsung and Syniverse to accelerate the open ecosystem of RCS Interconnection Hubs. All interconnect agreements support the GSMA’s Universal Profile, which is currently backed by over 70 leading operators, vendors and OS providers worldwide.
- Ovum research conducted with CLX suggests enterprises are intrigued. It found that 36 per cent are planning to adopt RCS for enterprise messaging. 89 per cent are interested in using RCS to have chatbot-based conversations with customers. And 61 per cent said RCS support for payment platforms was a significant draw.
- In January, CLX launched its own RCS API, the first RCS messaging platform to offer SMS fall-back, guaranteeing the delivery of RCS messages for enabled Android handsets, or as a standard SMS message if an RCS client isn’t present on the device.