Google gives mobile operators a reason to love it, and opens rich chat up for business

Spam and adverts? You bet

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Software, 23rd February 2018 14:24 GMT

Google has opened up a major new communications channel for businesses – sending multimedia messages to mobiles using interoperable standards.

Any business can now join Google's Jibe programme following a closed beta last year. As well as blast out simple text confirmations, organisations will be able to use Rich Communication Services (RCS) to send media such as links and locations.

It fulfils the promise Google made two years ago to work with, rather than fight, the GSMA's RCS (Rich Communications Suite in this case) specs. RCS was devised as the mobile operator's answer to over-the-top services like WhatsApp and Skype, and includes group chat, media sharing and metadata like read receipts.

Google's contribution has been upgrading the Android Messaging client to handle the RCS profile, which means the dominant OS (with 86 per cent market share) can use RCS.

Until Google's acquisition of Jibe in 2015, Silicon Valley and the traditional mobile players had been at loggerheads. Many still are, but Google sees an opportunity here. As this Google video (from 2017) points out, "SMS is 20 years old" (it's actually nearer 30) but no interoperable global standard exists for rich chat. This has been "silo'd" into proprietary apps like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. That has handed an effective duopoly to Facebook and Apple in the West, and WeChat in China.

So working with the carriers was really the only way into the market. Stopping Facebook and Apple isn't the only advantage Google sees. There's upside for its advertising business, and with WeChat demonstrating the potential of commerce over chat – something not proven outside China – Google could potentially face falling behind on an emerging platform if it continued to hand the initiative to Facebook and Apple.

Departing Google software engineer Steve Yegge recently pointed out that Google had lost the ability to develop its own new ideas, citing Google+ (Facebook), Google Cloud (AWS), Google Home (Amazon Echo), Allo (WhatsApp), Android Instant Apps (Facebook, WeChat), and Google Assistant (Apple/Siri) – which had all been me-too copies of successful services. But in this case the innovation has been done: the value comes from interoperability, not any new feature. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

17 Comments

More from The Register

Neil Young slams Google, after you log in to read his rant with Google or Facebook

Heart Of Gold meets Piece Of Crap

'Don't Google Google, Googling Google is wrong', says Google

Chocolate Factory unwraps developer style guide, squibs the thorny ISO date debate

Dropbox to let Google reach inside it and rummage about

Create and store GDocs in Dropbox, with admin policies preserved

US judges say you can Google Google, but you can't google Google

The Chocolate Factory is spared the aspirin treatment by the 9th Circuit Court

Apple: Er, yes. Your iCloud stuff is now on Google's servers, too

You can't escape The Circle

Google fuels up Chromecast Wi-Fi flooding fix

It lands today

Google powers up latest app it'll cancel in two years: Hangouts Chat

Chocolate fac crack a whack at Slack pack with yak yak stack

VMware's GM for networking and security jumps to Google

Veteran Jeff Jennings to get the band back together with VMware founder Diane Greene

Google ad blocks itself with DoubleClick snafu

DoubleClick for Publishers has been exhibiting unexpected behavior for several hours

Windows Store nixed Google Chrome 'app' hours after it went live

Installer merely redirected to the official source