First thought of Michi and me was the same: "The Empire strikes back". We are sitting with ten other people in a presentation in which Swisscom talks about RCS (Rich Communication Services) for the first time. The service is due to be launched this year, followed later by Messaging as a Platform (MaaP).
The story is quickly told. SMS (as part of the GSM standard) is definitely getting on in years and MMS has never really taken off either. So the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) redefined the standard under the name RCS. A multimedia and interactive variant of SMS - a bit like other modern messengers. But from the inventor of the GSM standard and supported by the mobile network operators (MNOs). They see their skins swimming away and want to sell more than just data traffic in the future.
It is definitely interesting that Google is also involved. The corresponding project there is called Google Jibe and the current messaging client on Android already masters the standard (artifacts of this can also be seen in other Google products, for example Allo). It's strange that the Google product video has only 51,000 views, the protocol video 3,000. The interest seems to be limited.
Also tricky is that there is no RCS client installed on iOS by default (there is iMessage and Apple Business Chat) and also that all Telcom (aka Salt and sunrise) have to participate to ensure interoperability. Of course there is a fallback via a mobile website, but not really tingling.
I get the feeling that RCS has a long way to go. If I look at what WeChat (and Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and and) offers in terms of functionality, the comparison with the first ascent of an eight-thousander is not inappropriate. But hey, even that can be done and above all it brings a lot of fame.
What does this mean for us? I will certainly read it in and think together with customers which use cases make sense. Technically very attractive things are possible like tickets or the integration of bots (even if everybody participates). And as always, the introduction of a new technology always has opportunities in communication.
PS: The next step, Messaging as a Platform (MaaP), goes even further, especially in terms of monetization. So I'm going to venture out onto the branches and give a presentation on the GSMA: The Operator Opportunity [pdf, 2.4MB].