The battle over RCS is starting to get serious. Last week, Google shifted the branding of its Messenger app to Android Messages as part of an effort to streamline messaging across all phones and eventually bring RCS to the larger Android community. Notably absent from that announcement, however, was Samsung, and now we know why.
Late last year, Samsung acquired Canada-based NewNet Communication Technologies’ Rich Communication Services division, and it’s already paying off. The Galaxy phone maker announced it will be building the tech into all of its phones running Marshmallow or Nougat, as it rolls out “a complete end-to-end solution that includes RCS-enabled devices, native/download
able device clients, cloud-based RCS application servers, an interconnectivity hub among operators and a third-party monetization platform.”
As such, users will be able to enjoy all the benefits of rich messaging, including “group chats, video calls and large file transfers, while continuing to use their phone numbers without the need for an additional app.” Presumably, the service will be delivered via a software update to the standard messaging app that ships on all Galaxy phones.
Samsung also says its RCS service will allow mobile network operators to quickly launch support for the service without the “costly and time-consuming efforts of building their own network infrastructure.” Additionally, Samsung announced it is working with a number of carriers to advance the availability of RCS messaging, including Deutsche Telekom, KT, SK Telecom, T-Mobile and Vodafone and says more partners are expected to join in the near future.
Like Google, however, Verizon and AT&T are conspicuously missing from that list, and if Samsung wants RCS to reach as many users as possible, it will need to woo their support.
The Rich get richer: While this move will further segment Samsung from the rest of the Android market, it could have a huge impact on the adoption of RCS. It’s no secret that Samsung is by and large the biggest Android phone maker on the planet, and like Apple, its moves are known to have a ripple effect on the industry. By expanding it to all Galaxy phones and not just the S8, Samsung is setting up a battle over RCS apps that could end up in a win-win situation for Android users. The sooner carriers embrace RCS over their networks, the sooner the Android messaging experience will become less of a headache.