T-Mobile RCS release is like trying to stop a bleeding with a bandage
It entered intensive care a few years ago and never made it out or showed any improvement in its condition.
The doctors at T-Mobile decided to move it to recovery room and announced a new RCS based service. They call it “Advanced Messaging”.
Reading the announcement made me wonder, are they ignoring reality, dreaming or just stuck in the past?
If this was 2005 we might have called it advanced but now in 2015 I find it hard to define the released features advanced. A more precise description would be – on the journey to in-par but not quite there.
The release of this partial RCS functionality by T-Mobile comes after their release of VoLTE. While there are good business and user benefits that come along with VoLTE, the story with RCS is much more complex.
The T-Mobile announced service in brief
Based on their announcement, the T-Mobile service includes:
- Rich 1 on 1 and group messaging, including near real-time chat
- See when others are typing, when your message is delivered and even read
- Share high-res photos and videos up to 10 MB just as you would a regular text message
- And T-Mobile Advanced Messaging is built to work across all devices, makers and operating systems—and wireless operators.
Regarding the last bullet point I have my doubts. It does not come built in to all devices (e.g. Apple) and I wonder what interoperability tests were done to support the claim of working across wireless operators.
T-Mobile’s main justification for launching this service is that users have today a hard time “hunting down” proprietary apps and convincing family and friends to install that app.
Reality is of course very different. Family and friends are more than likely to already use one or more messaging apps. The large messaging OTTs are much larger in user base than T-Mobile. Chances all family and friends are on T-Mobile are lower and it is not clear if a non-T-Mobile user can join the T-Mobile party and at what cost.
A real life example. I just came back from vacation in Canada visiting family. We wanted to communicate by mobile with local family members without them needing to call/text our international numbers. Since they were not using WhatsApp they had to spend 30 seconds installing the app. No brainer.
My questions to T-Mobile
Is this service available also as an installable app so a T-Mobile customer that didn’t buy the phone from T-Mobile will be able to install and use the service?
Can a non-T-Mobile user use the service?
Is there any additional cost associated with this service (for T-Mobile and non-T-Mobile users)?
Is this service 100% standard? Have you checked interoperability with other service providers in the world that launched RCS? Can I now send a text message with this service to a user on one of those networks and will all features work?
How do I know if a user I want to communicate with is using this service or not?
There is no reason for users to switch from the existing OTT messaging services they are using today to a service provider centric service that will not solve their communications needs with any user out there in a ubiquitous and interoperable way as SMS does.
There is no way to charge extra cost for such messaging services T-Mobile announced.
RCS will not be ubiquitous among service providers; it will not be truly interoperable and seamlessly used.
Hence, it will not deliver on its promise (for those such as T-Mobile who believe there is a promise).
Bandage image created by Patrick Trouve from the Noun Project