Top 5 Reasons RCS Doesn't Matter
There has been a lot of running commentary on the technical news front over the last several days regarding the announcement that the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative(CCMI) is dead. In short this had a lot to do with the roll-out of Rich Communication Services (RCS), Google's push for the roll-out, and the overall mess that is cross-platform messaging.
Now, I'm not one of those people who are going to leap a bridge too far and say RCS is Google/Android's answer to iMessage. It's not. However, the old standard, Short Messaging Service (SMS) and Multi-media Messaging Service (MMS) are protocols that have seen better days, and it we would be a lot better off if they were sunset. They were developed even before even email services spoke with one another, and there is the rub.
SMS/MMS are antiquated, and it's time that carriers move onto something more robust just as phones have, and if you have a flip phone then, well, it's time you moved on as well. The world does not stand idle. You either keep with the flow or get left behind. Otherwise we'd still be using telegraphs to send our texts. Stop.
So in light of all this I decided to compile my Top 5 list of reasons why RCS doesn't matter until these things get resolved.
#5 - People Don't Care.
A while back I asked a close friend why she hadn't turned on the chat features to enable RCS on her phone? Her reply was two fold. First, she didn't realize the Android Messages app had updated (at that time) so she wasn't even aware the option was there. The second, and more disconcerting, is the fact she outright refused. She was accustomed to receiving important texts through work, and she feared that by activating it she would stop receiving crucial SMS. Never mind that was not the case, users should know by now that if the message is not sent in RCS it defaults back to the old stand by SMS, but an end user who struggles with technology is frightened to upset that apple cart -- so to speak. I would hazard to guess there are many others out there like that. People just care whether you got their message.
#4 - People Don't Care About Privacy Either
Oh, I know. People say they careabout privacy. They recoil against the thought of Big Brother, but they only care about privacy if they don't have to do anything. This is why iMessage is so popular on Apple. The user doesn't have to do anything. iMessage to iMessage chats are governed by the same protocol, and they are end-to-end encrypted (E2EE). iMessage to Android defaults back to the old stand by SMS denoted by the "green bubble"and they are not encrypted. See also Why SMS Text Messages Aren't Private.Therefore if you're security conscious and messaging someone cross platform then both sides need to get on the same page using the same app. This means doing some work on your end and downloading Signal (my personal preference), WhatsApp, Voxer, or another. Then both sides of the message are on the same page and can get that extra layer of security, and all of them would have the same features of iMessage that Apple taut in their marketing. People are lazy, however, and technophobes are generally unaware and uneasy of these options and stay in the comfort zone of status quo. I also asked recently of a high school friend if he knew why my text showed up as green and texts from his wife showed up blue on his iPhone? He had no idea, and an iPhone is the only model smartphone he's ever owned. So there you go. Again, people just care whether you got their message.
#3 - Big Tech Knows Most Are Lazy
The carriers and phone manufacturers know that tech enthusiasts are outnumbered by the technophobes. The tech enthusiasts will download an alternative app to get what they want. The technophobes will live blissfully with whatever they have. So, at the end of the day, there is no incentive for them to spend money to upgrade their antiquated delivery systems to accommodate interoperability between platforms when people just shrug it off and let the bots read their messages on Facebook Messenger.
#2 - No Return On Investment
This goes along with #3. It would cost Big Tech and/or telecommunication companies a sizable chunk of change to upgrade systems to RCS with no return on investment. Unfortunately satisfaction that they have done a common goodby creating an interoperability framework between different platforms, both delivery and OS, is not an incentive. There is no common goodwhen it comes to the bottom line. It's about profit. It always is. Apple wants to keep the consumers locked in the iOS ecosystem, and Google is trying to pull together messaging under one house after years of deshelved platforms. The telecommunications companies are hands off, not my problem, in terms of messaging. They care only about the uptime and whether messages go through from Point A to Point B. E2EE, privacy, interoperability? That isn't worth the cost unless there is a financial gain or calamity on the back side such as a Y2K-like bug looming which forces the issue.
#1 - Google Voice Doesn't have RCS
This one is a real kicker. Google is attempting to reel in a decade of message fragmentation on Android. They have been the crusader of rolling out RCS to the world because of their exasperation with telecommunication companies lack of movement on the project (no wonders the CCMI failed!) that dates back to its conception in 2007. Between 2007 and present the movement has been a snail's pace. So I get it Google. You're telling me RCS matters. The initiative matters. It's time to overhaul the system. Its time to get rid of the old SMS telegraph lines. Then my question is why doesn't texting through Google Voice -- one of your premier platforms and services -- not have RCS capability? If RCS was as important as you say then Google Voice would have been ported over to Google Voice by now. It's not. This undermines Google's integrity where RCS is concerned. You can't do anything about iPhones or iMessages. You can't do anything about how the telecommunication companies manage their infrastructure, but you can control what is under your own roof. In this context that means Google Voice, or, if there is a logistical problem with that, let Google Voice users opt to send/receive GV messages from their GV number via Google Messages. Then everything would be under a common application. Then you will be able to strengthen RCS not dilute from it.