Mobile technology has advanced light years in the last decade or so which makes the stagnation of Short Messaging Service (SMS, or texting) especially surprising. While virtually everything else having to do with mobile has changed so drastically over the years, texting has remained pretty much the same. It’s still text-only and the number of characters per text is still limited as well. Because of these limitations combined with a desire by consumers to have more features, the popularity of third party messaging apps is exploding. Many are leaving SMS altogether in favor of Snapchat, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger.
The bigger smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are catching onto this trend as well. Apple’s iMessage is the default texting app on the iPhone. It still uses the SMS protocol that has been around for years when used to send a text to a phone that isn’t an iPhone, but texts to other iPhones opens up a whole realm of possibilities not included with SMS. Samsung is also introducing their own take on SMS: Android Messages which will have many of the features that iMessage and other messaging apps use.
The problem with iMessage, Android Messages, and the many other messaging apps out there is that none of them play nice with each other. There’s no standard protocol that they all adhere to and to have the full range of features, the people you want to speak with must be using the same app. Well RCS may soon change all of that.
Rich Communications Service
Some of the leading names in the mobile phone industry are pushing for a new text messaging protocol called Rich Communications Service (or RCS). It would offer many of the features that today’s messaging apps already use but they would be standardized across all smartphones regardless of manufacturer. RCS has providers, manufacturers, and mobile marketers excited.
Implications for marketers
Many companies have already expressed an interest in adopting RCS when it becomes available. Marketers will be able to do so much more with their text message marketing campaigns when RCS becomes a reality. Another implication involves chatbots. Currently companies who want to deploy chatbots have to develop many versions so that there’s one for all the major messaging apps. A standardized protocol for text messaging like RCS would make things easier for chatbot developers.
Will widespread adoption of RCS ever take place
The biggest obstacle facing RCS is that all the major networks and smartphone manufacturers have to play along. If even one major network or manufacturer wants to do their own thing, RCS won’t enjoy the universality that SMS currently does.