How is RCS Sold to Telcos These Days? (Hint: FUD)

October 30, 2014

RCS marketing is challenging.


This week I chaired the WebRTC day at Informa’s Rich Communication 2014 event. The first day of the event was dedicated to WebRTC while the other two with the bulk of the event – RCS.

Having these two packed together brings the stark differences between them out into the light. I got a firsthand view of how vendors market their RCS solutions to carriers. And it isn’t a pretty site.

You see, there is no money in RCS. How can you sell presence and instant messaging to consumers who are comfortable getting both for free by tapping into WhatsApp or one of many free services out there? I just can’t work. And there seems to be an understanding of that.

So what does a vendor to do?

Here’s a gist of a pitch:

  • Dear carrier, don’t think about making more money with RCS
  • Think of it as longer retention of customers
  • Now that you’ve given your customers an RCS client – he likes you so much that he will stay around for 6-12 months longer
  • And that’s boatloads of money
  • A lot more than our price of a dollar per user

Now let me get this straight – why would a customer stay with his carrier because of RCS exactly?

RCS won’t give any value that he can’t get elsewhere for free.

And if you are suggesting ubiquity and accessibility to everyone, then there are these 2 nagging facts to consider:

  1. WhatsApp has “only” 600 million (with a capital M) monthly active users. That’s more than all but one carrier in the world today
  2. If RCS is so widely available and ubiquitous, then what’s stopping me to switch to another carrier and use his RCS? They are the same anyway…

Should a carrier even adopt RCS? I don’t know.

Would a carrier make money out of RCS? Probably not.

Would RCS make customers happier and less likely to churn? Doesn’t seem like that.

Find a better reasons to adopt (or sell) RCS. Or just go for some other, more promising technology. What that has been around a fraction of the time of RCS and already has over a billion enabled devices out there.

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  1. Tsahi,

    A good read with a grain of humor 🙂 Enjoyed it.
    RCS pretty much defined itself to death trying to standardize everything up to the UI (how can SP differentiate this way?) + way too much time of playing around with it at the standard level instead of coming out with a service.
    Same as in RCS, also in VoLTE it will be hard…impossible to make more money from the service itself, at least in voLTE there are other reasons for the SP to launch it. I reviewed this list presented by one SP here –

    Having said all of this, having RCS integrated into the phone as default has value and as long as it comes without a cost for the user it will be used by some.

    1. Amir,

      Glad to see you here 🙂

      Sure that having *something* integrated into the phone as default has value as long as it comes without a cost for the user.

      Question is, what value does this really bring to the carrier himself.

      1. Well, as said. For both RCS & VoLTE it will be hard to impossible for the SP to make direct revenue from the service. I think SPs understand this. As I wrote in my post,, this fact was kind of a consensus at the Voice LTE Summit earlier this month.
        They will need to sustain/acquire the users and make revenue from a different market. Asymmetric business models as Vision Mobile nicely wrote in their report –

  2. You’re both missing the point of RCS, it keeps so many people employed in the GSMA, vendors and telcos, busying doing nothing passing the time of day.

    Libon has it right, use the interoperability piece of RCS, and that’s it. Unfortunately, like VoLTE so much time has been pissed away on other useless standardization and specification by people without the necessary relevant experience (only qualification being full time standards people) the core value of interoperability is not rock solid. I think I have a slide on who to solve this problem as well from Game of Thrones 😉

      1. VoLTE is just a foundation for new services. It’s just the NG IP session handler using the strength of the 4G network. It’s a smooth replacement of our existing MSC (you can replace 20-30 MSC by 1 IMS core); it is money saving. I agree that it could have been made easier. With VoLTE, RCS, an SDP (and webRTC GW), we have a tool allowing Voice, video and messaging applications and innovations. The infrastructure brings the interoperability and could remove the silo situation of all the current Social Networks. For sure that RCS as a P2P application does not make sense compared to WhatsApp’ Line… we should see it as a tool for app development

        1. Patrice,

          I fail to see VoLTE or RCS as foundaitons for new services. I see them as THE service in question. The concept of adopting them and building services on top of them seems a bit misguided to me, which means we will have to agree to disagree on this one 🙂

    1. You took the words out of my mouth.
      Back in 2007 I started working as a design specialist at a major Canadian telco, working on VoIP and SIP. In my first week I was invited to my first technical presentation, it dealt with RCS and how it was going to revolutionized and bring order to the chaos of chat and messaging services that didn’t the benefit of being designed in a formal standardization process. The guy that did the presentation is pitching the same vision.

      In fact I joined that telco because of its mobility group, thinking mobility was where all the great technology and most innovated minds were, was I ever wrong. The best minds are layers of abstraction above radio waves or fibres.

  3. Since I’ve attended both events (WebRTC Summit and Rich Comms) as well, I have a moment of joy and a moment of shock to contribute.

    Moment of Joy: Seeing the potential as platform discussed more. And it’s not mainly “buy an RCS platform and then do things”, but rather mentioned as side effect (if the only one 🙂 by those having deployed the service and understanding right at the beginning that this can’t be it. That also followed the thoughts I have spoken about. If it is decided to roll out RCS and money is put there for one reason or the other, there are more and more smart people recognizing two things: RCS as a service won’t do and native integration and iterating any features using native integrations is so damned slow that we need to look beyond and cannot rely on this promise. But if the service is placed in your network, you may as well explore the (most often more modern) APIs on the new platform and perhaps find some value elsewhere. Hope we’ll see more creative people in the industry looking at it that way and accepting what can’t be changed and instead looking forward.

    Moment of shock: Sitting on a panel and hearing the GSMA state that perhaps next year we will see many more launches in Europe and maybe in two years some new service will be presented. Yes, this is apparently their aim and understanding of success. A few new services popping up in the end of 2016. Depressing, shocking, stunning. Winter is not coming, it is already here 🙂


      1. Some try, even some I haven’t believed would change their minds when attending two years ago.

        The problem is the core belief in native device integration in my opinion. That can do for a better lower common denominator eventually, but not for new value or experience creation.


  4. I wonder best thing a service provider can do (in times to come) is to provide consistent IP connectivity to their mobile clients & everything else would be for grab !

      1. Interesting. Directory service, QoS etc are few I can think of but nothing in multimedia communication but I leave this to experts !!!
        I am watching LTE roll out keenly which in my opinion will set tone in right direction (who grabs what). Will webrtc vendors make killing on top of LTE or excitement postponed to some other *G.

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