Over the last 20+ years, we’ve all seen the headlines predicting the demise of SMS messaging.
Yet, here we are in May 2021, and SMS is still a powerhouse messaging channel. In many markets, SMS is still the leading Person-to-Person messaging channel. And throughout the world, it remains one of the, if not the, most popular business messaging channels. We’re now seeing RCS starting to face similar headlines.
First, we as a messaging industry need mobile operator support for Universal Profile 2.0 – and quickly. In 2018, we had strong messaging provider and aggregator support for RCS, but only a smattering of operators launched support for UP 2.0. The GSMA notes that around 75 mobile operators have launched RCS, but the vast majority of these are UP 1.0 support only. Remember, this time around it is the enterprise/brand (A2P) RCS that is driving this new SMS replacement. It is supported by all the top messaging providers that manage over 80% of the world’s A2P (or B2C if you want) SMS messaging. These are the companies that have the enterprises, banking/financial, travel industries, logistics, social/entertainment, consumer brands, and more that are already using messaging.
Just over a year ago, I was an RCS (rich communications service) skeptic. A big one! Meaning: I thought that the RCS standards were too fragmented, a waste of time, and too little, too late; that they wouldn’t make an impact on enterprise/brand messaging, among other thoughts. Certainly, the RCS opportunity has been lost for person-to-person messaging, with the overtaking of SMS by various messaging chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, and others. However, since Mobile World Congress 2017, I have started to believe that there may be, at last, hope for RCS – especially as a primary channel for conversational messaging for brands and enterprises.