RCS to go big at MWC19?
With a little over 2 months left until Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, its core topics have been announced, as well as keynote speakers from Huaweii, Vodafone Group, Orange Group, Vimeo and others. Aside from standard grand themes such as 5G, device launches, AI and IoT, there are other interesting developments to keep an eye on, likely to get traction ahead and during Barcelona's MWC19.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) could see a major breakthrough, with new launches and use cases presented before and during the show. According to Juniper Research, Rich Communication Services (RCS) will be among top 10 tech trends in 2019. It could dominate a lot of the messaging discourse in the upcoming year. That will likely be reflected at world's biggest mobile show. At MWC 2018, RCS was already a hot topic, with many experimental use cases of the new SMS standard, also called SMS 2.0 presented and debated. There have been new developments throughout 2018, and trade analysts expect to see significant moves presented ahead and at the Congress.
With over 60 telecom operators currently supporting RCS, 2019 and 2020 could be key for its wider adoption by networks, consumers and brands, which could bring major changes in the messaging space.
Gavin Patterson of Mobilesquared estimates there were around 80 million active RCS users around the world at the end of 2017. This could rise to about 275 million this year and 1 billion by the end of 2019. He expects over 43 million people to use RCS across Europe by the end of 2018, out of which 4.6 million in the United Kingdom.
Messaging companies are ready for RCS, and could become major agents in its commercialization. Awareness among brands is still low, even within teams handling customer communications, which is where RCS could bring major benefits. Google's involvement is a massive factor in the emerging ecosystem. GSMA has been holding meetings and labs throughout this year, looking to gather all stakeholders and promote RCS adoption on a global scale. It will be interesting to see how things play out in the next couple of years, when RCS could finally take off - in its second or third attempt since the standard was developed in 2007.
If that happens, businesses and brands will be able to deliver up to 20 MB of content and videos to their customers' default messaging app, create interactive carousels, use chatbots and AI, provide one-click payments within a messaging session, get detailed stats and much more. It is estimated for early adopters of RCS trials to have 20x higher engagement rates. Besides Vodafone, which already pressed the 'launch' button in the UK, other operators have their finger ready to press the button as well. In countries like Germany and Romania, RCS rollouts were more uniform, with the majority of networks in the country launching it around the same time.