Aldo Agostinelli

Those who said text messages were dead were wrong: they’re alive and kicking and making quite a comeback. This is mainly thanks to Apple’s iMessage and Facebook, who have integrated it into Messenger. Now Google are entering the game and intend to try to steal the whole market sector from its competitors.Read in Italian.

Google is focusing on the Rich Communications Service (RCS), the ultimate version of the Short Message Service (SMS), much more high-tech than the Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) ever was.

Aldo Agostinell: How Google RCS could revolutionize textingRCS lets users send text messages with the same functionality that Apple iMessage offers: they can create group chats, share images and videos which are 100 times larger than those supported by traditional (and now obsolete) MMS messages, see the number of digits used, and see if recipients have read their messages.

Following last year’s takeover of Jibe, a smart platform for sending short-text messages, Google is now providing the RCS system for subscribers to American network provider Sprint. To use RCS, subscribers must have an Android KitKat device or one of its upgraded versions, and select Messenger as their favourite text messaging app.

The fact that text messages are officially back is not at all surprising. I’ve seen many examples that show, even in 2017, texting is an effective mass communications tool.

It was used by the Bernie Sanders’ campaign during the US presidential elections. Sanders’ Iowa and Oklahoma field director Zach Fang used SMS to pass the democratic candidate’s message to voters without excessive intrusiveness of apps and emails.

Using Hustle, an app for sending smart SMS messages, and with the help of just six members of staff, Fang reached eight thousand people in the first week of the campaign. The next week, he reached over 15 thousand. He reached a wide and varied audience which included millennials and over 40s, successfully engaging them in the political campaign via short text messages.

This provides a clear evidence that, in 2017, text messaging is still efficient.

However, Google’s strategy is still not clear.

First, iMessage works with any Apple device, whereas Google RCS is available only upon signing up with a dedicated contract provider. Plus, Google still hasn’t announced which provider they intend to sign in addition to Sprint. Moreover, the system doesn’t work with older phones and users need to select the Google Messenger app as a predefined client.

Last, and certainly not least, Google is still pushing Hangouts as a text messaging app, promoting the latest app update with integrated AI as the future of messaging. Basically, confusion rules.

What do you make of Google’s strategy for text messaging?  I’d like to hear your views. Comment or tweet me using @agostinellialdo.

If you liked this post, you should read my blog on Google’s AI messaging app Allo.  

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Aldo Agostinelli