RCS – back for good
If this is the first time you read about RCS, then well done, your timing is just about perfect. Conceived in 2008 and launched 2012, RCS (Rich Communication Suite) was an attempt of mobile operators to upgrade the well proven but limited SMS technology to rival Whatsapp, Line and other messaging applications that were starting to flourish at the time causing subscriber churn and lower ARPU. RCS quickly became a bloated and hardly used specification that failed on the very promise it was supposed to fulfil; ubiquitous and interoperable rich messaging services. After being declared dead several times, RCS got revived by a rather peculiar symbiosis (or takeover) with Google in 2015. The RCS specification got a clear focus on messaging with the Universal Profile specification and operators got a promise of built-in RCS in Android devices while Google started hosting and running the RCS service for the operators. Last year 350 million monthly users were expected to use RCS – a figure that’s set to double by 2019. So now is the perfect time to start thinking about how RCS will affect your business.
Making SMS obsolete
Today, 27 years after the first SMS was sent, it’s quite astonishing that we are still using this limited textual messaging standard as the most widely adopted messaging service in the world. In this timespan, SMS A2P business has grown into a multi-billion market and is still widely used. But with the transition to RCS, the A2P (Application to Person) messaging space will see new platforms and new providers handling most of the messages. As of now it’s Google and Samsung who are running the show with their RCS cloud platforms, but mobile operators are working to build RCS support as part of their network services. Once RCS is the norm and SMS the equivalent of sending a fax when someone does not have an email address, the phone messaging industry will see new RCS platforms taking the centre stage with SMS providers sending less and less SMS messages. Digital transactions such as mobile payments, online shopping, gaming or business messaging that are too cumbersome using SMS will become mainstream in operator services using RCS. Will you be a player on this market?
Upgrading to RCS
Like most operator standards, RCS is a rather complex technology for such a simple task as sending a message or a picture. If you want to move from using SMS to RCS in your business, there are thankfully straight forward web-based platforms and APIs that allow reaching consumers via RCS. If you are providing messaging apps and want to connect to RCS networks for sending messages, you’ll need RCS support in your app as well. This support can be achieved with the Unikie RCS SDK, a powerful toolbox for RCS development. The SDK contains a multiplatform RCS library written in C that encapsulates all RCS protocols and RCS session handling from your application, so you can focus on the messaging UI. The RCS engine has been used in GSMA accreditations for Universal Profile messaging features and has support for Business Messaging features. You can use it on Android, iOS, Windows or Linux, and the SDK comes with full documentation and example source codes to get you started. The SDK also contains a fully featured and highly configurable RCS test client that can be used to test your RCS apps, RCS chatbots or RCS network features.
As of today, GSMA numbers show that 73 operators have launched RCS services in their network but only 398 Android devices and zero Apple devices support RCS out of the box. We hope to improve these figures and make it easy for any service or app to connect to all the 5 Billion operator service subscribers via RCS.