Late last month, the major US carriers agreed to rollout RCS .. sort of. The Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative was a custom iteration of the RCS protocol, rather than a standards-based approach, and it would have required a carrier app to make it work.
In a rare show of strength against the carriers, and in what we consider the consumers best interests, Google has said no, and announced that it will launch its own RCS service for USA customers, regardless of carrier.
What does this mean? It means Google will now provide the open back end for RCS messaging service to Android users across the USA. Any Android users who want to use the Google standards-backed flavour of cross-carrier/ platform messaging will soon be able to install Android Messages app from the Google Play Store, and use Google’s RCS infrastructure regardless of carrier.
RCS as a standard brings many of the now ubiquitous instant messaging features to “SMS” such as read receipts, group chats, HD images and video etc. If the carriers had played nicely, Google would have let them roll out their own services and offer RCS as part of their product offering to customers, but alas the US carriers tried to call Google’s bluff.
What’s more, Google has indicated that it will continue to bring RCS to the rest of the world (after already rolling out infrastructure across UK, France and Mexico), so international carriers who want to call Google’s bluff better think again. Could the Android messaging wars be coming to an end? Now, we just need to fix Apple’s anti-competitive/ walled garden messaging behaviour and the internet will be fixed! Right?