Last week we focused on looking at the success of SMS over the last 20 years and why it is still going strong after all this time. However, with the appearance of new messaging services, what is next in mobile messaging?mobile messaging solutions
The introduction of internet based (Over-the-Top) Rich Messaging applications, enabled by mobile broadband networks and smartphones, has forever changed the messaging landscape. Mobile consumers have developed an appetite for the group chat, social presence and image share capabilities that these services offer and, more importantly, the ‘free’ price tag associated with OTT (or appears to be). This is a very strong differentiator in a price sensitive messaging market.
But, despite the price advantage of OTT services, we see that Smartphone users as their primary messaging service, especially in markets where unlimited SMS bundles are common, due to the fact that they can reach everyone in their address book in a reliable manner, or maybe just out of habit.
SMS revenues are however taking a hit from the OTT chat services, in the same way as operator’s voice revenues are. Mobile operators have been repackaging their consumer offers, bundling SMS with voice and internet access, with (nearly) unlimited usage.
In order to keep their offer relevant, mobile operators around the globe are introducing rich messaging and rich voice services, exploiting the potential of IP networks and Smartphones. Operators are exploring several avenues, including the foundation of digital subsidiaries set up to create new IP services business in a start-up modus, partnering with (OTT) internet players ,co-branded or simply data bundles for messaging services.
The mobile industry, led by the GSMA, recognised a need to offer a new breed of rich messaging services some years ago, before the appearance of OTT players which is now starting to come to fruition. Under the name (RCS), this service aims to retain the same success factors of SMS – Reach, Simplicity, the Right Price and the Magic factor – built right into the design.
Reach – The RCS service, that includes services such as (group) chat, social presence, voice and video calling, image and video sharing, is broadly supported by mobile operators and device vendors, and has been standardised to work across networks and devices, just like SMS. Market launches of RCS, such as in Spain and Germany, are happening in an orchestrated manner, making the services available to consumers of all leading operators at the same time.
The reach of RCS is augmented by the interworking with existing services such as SMS and MMS. This is going to be key to provide reach in the first years of RCS, and is a differentiator for mobile operators compared to internet and OTT players. Rather than allowing the early adopters of RCS to communicate only with other users that own an RCS capable device – the same closed concept that is applied in OTT services – they can chat and share files with everyone in their address book from day 1. To enable RCS interaction with users that are not yet RCS capable, the network will simply deliver chat messages over SMS and file transfer over MMS, in a way that is completely transparently for the RCS user.
Simplicity: RCS will work out of the box with new mobile devices, and the user is identified by their existing mobile telephone number. There is no need for separate registration, downloading and configuring apps, or to own a device from a certain vendor.
The GSM Association is leading the standardisation and the go to market strategy of RCS, ensuring that the RCS services and features are introduced in an orchestrated and uniform manner. This includes the publication of client implementation guidelines to ensure a consistent and predictable user experience across devices. As RCS is built into the mobile networks, operators have full control over the user experience, and can ensure that interaction is instant, just like with SMS…
The right price: The consensus across the mobile industry is that direct revenues from rich messaging services will be next to nothing. Therefore, RCS is considered a strategic investment for mobile operators, to assure relevancy of mobile network services, rather than as a business case based on direct revenues. In terms of revenues, RCS will be a platform for revenue generating applications and services, rather than a service in itself, enabling an ecosystem for value added services across the mobile industry.
In order to stimulate and encourage the development and innovation of new services based on RCS, the GSMA announced the launch of their “”, a competition aimed at mobile and web application developers. By accessing the joyn “innovation accelerator”’ a developer can use APIs on a live GSMA Rich Communication Services network, enabling them to quickly turn ideas into reality.
The Magic Factor: Whether the magic factor of SMS is also realised in RCS is yet to be seen. Over the past few months, we have seen the first commercial launches of RCS services, under the consumer brand ‘joyn’, by , and in Spain by Vodafone, Orange and Telefonica, for more. Launches in Germany and South Korea are imminent, with a total of 30 operators in 18 countries committed to launching an RCS services, the majority before end 2013.
A number of key enablers are in place to help drive the advancement of RCS globally, including the trademarking of ‘joyn’ in 40 countries, the accreditation of eight handsets with embedded joyn clients across Windows Mobile, Android and iOS as well as six downloadable clients which have also been accredited.
The threshold for operators to launch RCS has also been made easier through the availability of hosted RCS solutions from vendors such as us, Acision, removing the necessity for operators to deploy RCS (and IMS) capabilities in the network. For more information on this, please .