News & Status | Mobile Marketing Association

RCS Market Size Data

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, RCS is expected to reach a CAGR of 40.51% during the period 2019-2024. High market growth is expected to come from the APAC region.

A 2019 report from Mobilesquared gives some highly positive insights into the RCS opportunity. Below are some highlights. You can download the full report from our Resources section.

  • The RCS market will be worth £16.2 in 2023 (based on messaging and chat) - RCS market potentially worth £38.5billion in 2023 (based on messaging, chat, advertising and search)
  • RCS is now on a par with WhatsApp if comparing P2P users a % of total smartphones
  • Consumers will engage with at least two brands every day by 2023 via RCS
  • There are 3.5 billion smartphones, of which 2.8 billion are Android. Based on the Android devices that are RCS compliant today, Mobilesquared believe the potential reach is just over 900 million devices worldwide – to be clear, these are not “Active Users”
  • As of the end of 2018, there were 203 million Android users globally, and by the end of Mobilesquared's forecast period in 2023, there will be 2.8 billion RCS users. That is exponential growth
  • By the end of 2019, there will be 790 million RCS P2P users, at which point RCS has caught up with Tencent’s QQ. By the end of 2019, 14.8% of total smartphone users will be on RCS
  • In 2021, RCS will officially become the world’s biggest business messaging platform, with more than 2 billion users, accounting for 50% of total smartphone users

Global Launch Status

According to the GSMA, as of October 2019 there were 81 launched RCS networks, and 295 million global monthly active users. Another 27 operators are expected to launch RCS by Q1 2020. 

Below is a list of operators that have launched RCS and the countries in which it is available:

Country Region Operator
Albania Europe Telekom Albania (OTE)
Albania Europe Vodafone
Argentina Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Australia Asia Pacific Telstra
Brazil Latin America Nextel
Brazil Latin America Oi
Cameroon Sub-Saharan Africa Orange
Canada North America Bell (BCE)
Canada North America Rogers
Canada North America Telus
Chile Latin America Claro (America Movil)
China Greater China China Mobile
Columbia Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Congo, Democratic Republic Sub-Saharan Africa Orange
Costa Rica Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Cote d’Ivoire Sub-Saharan Africa Orange
Czech Republic Europe Vodafone
Dominican Republic Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Ecuador Latin America Claro (America Movil)
El Salvador Latin America Claro (America Movil)
France Europe Free Mobile(Iliad)
France Europe SFR (Altice Europe)
Germany Europe Telekom (Deutsche Telekom)
Germany Europe Vodafone
Greece Europe Cosmote (OTE)
Greece Europe Vodafone
Guatemala Latin America Claro/Movistar (America Movil)
Guinea Sub-Saharan Africa Orange (Sonatel)
Guinea-Bissau Sub-Saharan Africa Orange (Sonatel)
Hondruras Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Hungary Europe Magyar Telecom
Hungary Europe Vodafone
India Asia Pacific Reliance Jio (Reliance Industries)
India Asia Pacific Vodafone Idea
Ireland Europe Vodafone
Italy Europe Vodafone
Japan Asia Pacific KDDI
Japan Asia Pacific NTT DOCOMO
Japan Asia Pacific SoftBank
Jordan Middle East and North Africa Orange (Jordan Telecom)
South Korea Asia Pacific KT
South Korea Asia Pacific LG Uplus
Korea, South Asia Pacific SK Telecom
Madagascar Sub-Saharan Africa Orange
Malaysia Asia Pacific Celcom (Axiata)
Malta Europe Vodafone
Mexico Latin America AT&T
Mexico Latin America Movistar (Telefonica)
Mexico Latin America Telcel (América Móvil)
Moldova Commonwealth of Independent States Orange
Morocco Middle East and North Africa Orange
New Zealand Asia Pacific Vodafone
Nicaragua Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Niger Sub-Saharan Africa Orange
Norway Europe Ice
Norway Europe Telenor
Norway Europe Telia
Panama Latin America Clara (America Movil)
Paraguay Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Peru Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Philippines Asia Pacific Globe Telecom
Portugal Europe Vodafone
Puerto Rico Latin America Claro (America Movil)
Romania Europe Orange
Romania Europe Telekom Romania (OTE)
Romania Europe Vodafone
Russian Federation Europe MTS (Sistema)
Senegal Sub-Saharan Africa Orange (Sonatel)
Slovakia Europe Orange
Slovakia Europe Slovak Telekom (Deutsche Telekom)
South Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Cell C
South Africa Sub-Saharan Africa MTN
South Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Telkom
South Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Vodacom
Spain Europe Movistar (Telefonica)
Spain Europe Orange
Spain Europe Vodafone
Spain Europe Yoigo (Masmovil)
Sweden Europe Telia
Tunisia Middle East and North Africa Orange
Turkey Middle East and North Africa Vodafone
United Kingdom Europe 3 (CK Hutchison)
United Kingdom Europe EE
United Kingdom Europe 02
United Kingdom Europe O2 (Telefonica)
Uraguay Latin America Claro (America Movil)
USA North America AT&T
USA North America Other
USA North America Sprint (SoftBank)
USA North America T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom)
USA North America US Cellular (TDS)
USA North America Verizon Wireless

The Universal Profile (UP)  has been evolving steadily since its initial introduction in late 2016. UP 2.0 in June 2017 saw the introduction of features for chatbots and RCS Business Messaging. The current version, UP 2.2, expanded on those features. The chart below from CBInsights shows the ecosystem players that support the UP.

The Role of Google

One big boost for the UP standard was Google’s decision to support it; its Android Messages app supports the standard.

Google also bought the startup Jibe Mobile in 2015, which focuses on interoperability of advanced messaging across networks. Jibe Hub, a cloud-hosted platform, connects operator networks to the RCS backbone around the world, and Jibe Cloud is Google’s hosted RCS platform. The Jibe products are just two components of Google’s efforts to create a full technology stack that is UP compliant.

While carrier adoption is one route to expanding RCS’ footprint, in June 2019 Google decided to approach deployment from a different angle, beginning the rollout of a peer-to-peer version, starting in the U.K. and France, essentially employing the network to boost the number of RCS users. Users will experience this when they see a “Chat” prompt; if they click “Yes” it gives enables them for RCS. When an RCS user connects to another RCS user, they can continue their conversation in RCS, enabling its rich features. 

The Status of Apple

It should be noted that Apple has not yet released their version of RCS. Apple is in discussions with the GSMA and operators about incorporating RCS in iOS, and at this point Apple is keeping their RCS plans close to their vest. How big a liability that is for RCS is a matter of perspective. As was stated above, iOS accounts for less than a quarter of mobile operating systems globally, and in the US July 2019, OS market share for iOS is 55% with Android close behind at 44% (Statcounter GlobalStats) and growing. North America as a whole is a 50/50 tie between the two, giving RCS significant penetration even in the biggest Apple market.

Business Model and Pricing

At this point, any brands that are active in SMS should be experimenting with RCS, because testing/piloting RCS is still relatively low-cost. A number of different aggregators, including Sinch, OpenMarket, 3Cinteractive, Samsung, and Mobivity are helping marketers develop on this new platform. Initial executions do not have to be complex to be effective, both in delivering enhanced services to consumers and in terms of what learnings they can deliver to brands, particularly because, as was said earlier, RCS’ tracking and metrics far surpass those of SMS.

For now, RCS is being priced by carriers on a per message basis, similar to SMS, with the per message cost going down as the scale of an initiative expands. But the pricing model could change. It’s easy to see, for instance, how RCS could be better priced on a per session basis since it involves more back and forth between customer and business.

A February 2018 survey by Sinch gives some insight into where the business model and pricing may go. Conducted among over a hundred enterprises, operators and messaging providers in Europe, Asia and North America, it found: 

  • Respondents think enhanced functionality won’t mean excessively increased price,
  • There is no consensus on who should pay for data consumption. While in the OTT messaging app universe the consumer pays, there are varying opinions of how this will work with RCS, from maintaining the model in which the consumer pays to having data cost be sponsored by brands or carriers.
  • Most enterprises (67%) plan to offer SMS and MMS as an alternative to RCS.

Clearly, this is an evolving ecosystem with many areas yet to be decided. Becoming part of the RCS ecosystem early gives brands the advantage of having a seat at the table in this important ongoing discussion.

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