by Thorsten Trapp ,CTO with tyntec
The GSMA’s RCS-e initiative is flawed. The standard, which is being tested by a number of operators, is designed to allow these organisations to offer OTT (Over-The-Top) services such as IM (instant messaging), chat and video sharing. Whilst this is an admirable goal, the initiative isn’t all-encompassing enough to satisfy consumer expectations and falls some way short of being able to compete with established OTT offerings. The functionality itself is designed to deliver a user experience similar to that of services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Pinger.
The problem is that, whilst these specialist services are device independent, RCS-e requires compatible handsets and network infrastructure.
This immediately limits its spread to consumers and the attractiveness for networks.
Moreover, RCS-e is not expected to work on an international scale for some time – something which is a hallmark of established OTT services.
Another downfall is that RCS-e is not economically attractive in comparison with existing OTT services.
The standard will not support the low-cost/free pricing models which have become commonplace with services such as Whatsapp and Pinger.
The operator-centric nature of RCS-e means that such a model is extremely unlikely, making them unattractive for potential subscribers.
However, the overriding limiting factor with RCS-e is that it is quite simply too late to the game.
As with any Internet communications product or service, first mover advantage is absolutely key.
As we have seen time and time again, the companies which are focussed and launch early in emerging Internet communications markets are those which amass huge amounts of users and become ‘subscriber giants’.
The also-rans often fail to gain traction and without a significant differentiator, consumers have no reason to switch services.
The fact that the inter-operator implementation and integration of such services will take some time only compounds this fact.
Attempting to offer rich Internet communications services to consumers on the move is admirable.
However, the limitations of RCS-e’s approach and potential implementation make it highly unlikely that it will achieve the critical mass it will need to flourish.
It is time that operators accept that the cards are stacked against RCS-e and focus on other alternatives such as partnering with OTT players or figuring out ways of integrating their technology and assets more strongly into OTT services by the way of mobile numbers, for example.
Thorsten Trapp co-founded tyntec in 2002 and developed the company’s Mobile Messaging platform architecture. He is also responsible for tyntec’s technical innovations and intellectual property. A communications and software expert, Mr. Trapp founded his own IT services company in 1995. He then expanded his experience in the development and hosting of scalable internet server platforms to the conception and implementation of infrastructure for mobile data transport.