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Apple to make iPhone compatible with RCS

November 27, 2023

After a campaign of pressure from European regulators and competitors such as Google and Samsung, Apple has finally relented. In 2024, the iPhone will support RCS messaging system the standard created by the GSMA and used by most Android phones. What does this explosive announcement mean for mobile marketing? Will RCS campaigns be feasible on all smartphones? smsmode© tells you all about it.

Apple RCS

Apple's RCS announcement

"In the course of next year (2024, ed. note), we will add support for the RCS universal profile, the standard as currently published by the GSM Association," said Apple spokeswoman Jacqueline Roy.

"We believe the RCS universal profile will offer better interoperability than SMS or MMS. It will work in parallel with iMessage, which will remain the messaging experience... for Apple users."

It was this announcement that had the effect of a bombshell in the mobile world. RCS support for the iPhone will be launched via a software update in early 2024, and will bring a wide range of functions to message exchanges between iPhone and Android users.

The decision comes after lengthy negotiations, and as RCS continues to develop as an increasingly mature platform.

What's in it for users?

The iPhone's adoption of RCS could enable support for encryption, images, high-resolution video, read receipts, keystroke indicators and more. In short, Apple will enable users to share a similar messaging experience between the two systems, with the exception of RCS message bubbles, which will remain green, as SMS messages currently are on iPhone.

What Apple's RCS support means for business messaging

Apple's announcement is more than promising news for the future of rich messaging in marketing. For the moment, only the person-to-person (P2P) experienceis concerned, and Apple has not announced its intentions for the business side of its RCS adoption. But it's highly likely that this adoption will also lead to a major development for the application-to-person (A2P) market: the merger, or at least compatibility, of RBM (RCS Business Messaging: the A2P channel of RCS) with AMB (Apple Messages for Business: the A2P channel of iMessage).

Like SMS and its professional version, the A2P and P2P versions of RCS and iMessage are different technologies. Although RBM and AMB already share features such as support for brand profiles, acknowledgements and other enhanced messaging functions ... these two protocols can't be merged at the snap of a finger.

Separately, RBM and AMB don't yet have the reach of SMS or even other over-the-top (OTT) messaging channels like WhatsApp. Together, however, they have the potential to reach virtually all smartphone users.

Innovation in business messaging tends to follow innovation in consumer messaging. The potential for adoption of rich messaging in the A2P world is therefore enormous. The GSMA estimates that there will be 6.3 billion mobile subscribers by 2030, representing billions of business opportunities for brands. Companies could create compelling experiences with a single click, all without consumers switching apps.

RCS functionalities

RCS messaging features

Find out about the different types of content messages and buttons integrated into the discussion thread, which are offered by the RBM: the RCS at the service of companies.

Discover

Reminder: What is the RCS?

RCS (Rich Communication Services) is a messaging protocol that aims to replace SMS and MMS with a richer, more interactive experience. RCS lets you send and receive text messages, images, videos, files, emojis, stickers, voice messages, video calls, group messages and much more. RCS works over the mobile network or wifi, and offers users features such as acknowledgements, input indicators, or end-to-end encryption.

Reminder: What is RBM?

RBM (RCS Business Messaging) is RCS at the service of brands and companies. It enables companies to communicate with their customers in a more personalized, engaging and effective way.

With RBM, you can create more creative, more interactive and more measurable campaigns. Your RBM campaigns allow you to integrate interactive elements into your RCS messages, such as buttons, carousels, polls, forms and more. In this way, you can facilitate action, stimulate reaction, and foster loyalty.

The other major advantage of RBM is the possibility of adding a chatbot to your sessions. This gives you a powerful "conversational commerce" tool. A more innovative and useful service for your customers, enabling you to offer a new marketing experience with colossal conversion potential.

RBM is a new solution for mobile marketers, and an opportunity for them to personalize their messages according to the profile, behavior and preferences of their recipients. This means they can adapt the content, tone and timing of their messages to increase open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates.

Reasons for Apple's choice

Apple has long resisted the adoption of RCS, preferring to focus on its proprietary iMessage service, which offers a similar messaging experience. However, faced with pressure from competitors, customers and regulators, Apple finally changed its strategy.

There are several reasons for this turnaround. Firstly, RCS has become an increasingly widespread and popular standard in the mobile world, thanks in particular to the support of Google, Samsung and other major players. According to the GSMA, RCS will have more than 600 million monthly active users worldwide by 2022, and should reach one billion by 2024. By not supporting RCS, Apple risked cutting itself off from an important part of the market, and frustrating its customers who wanted to communicate more easily with their Android contacts.

Secondly, RCS represents an opportunity for Apple to comply with the requirements of the European Union, which in 2022 adopted the Digital Markets Act, a law designed to regulate the practices of digital giants and foster competition and innovation. Among the obligations imposed by this law is that of guaranteeing the interoperability of messaging services between different platforms. By adding RCS support to the iPhone, Apple could avoid potential sanctions from the EU.

Finally, Apple's decision to make the iPhone compatible with RCS will bring many benefits to iPhone users, who will now be able to enjoy their rich messaging experience with Android users, and easily switch between the two services without losing their conversations.

Will Apple take the plunge into RBM?

That's the question we're asking ourselves. For the moment, Apple's announcement only concerns the RCS. As for the RBM, we're still waiting for further details from Apple. To be continued...

How to prepare your universal RBM strategy?

Companies need to adapt their marketing strategy to the RCS, taking into account the protocol's specific features and opportunities.

So define your objectives, target, message, budget, timetable, etc. And above all, test and optimize your campaigns using the data and feedback provided by RCS.

 

Talk to an expert

 

For an RCS campaign, the first thing to do is to segment your contact lists according to their compatibility with the protocol. In anticipation of full compatibility, you'll need to know which users have a compatible smartphone and operator. This will enable you to send RCS messages to them, and SMS messages to other users.

RCS enables you to offer a more personalized, richer and more interactive messaging experience. You'll have two powerful levers to activate:

 

Conversion :

By making it possible to offer more attractive, more relevant and more tailored offers to customers, RCS enables companies to increase conversion. Make it easy to take action, by integrating buttons, links, QR codes and more.

 

Measurement:

Thanks to the precise, detailed data on deliverability, opens, clicks and conversions provided by the RCS protocol, you can better measure the effectiveness of your campaigns with RCS. Optimize your strategies, budgets and ROI with this valuable data.

Conclusion: the future of mobile marketing with RCS on iPhone

RCS is a technology that has the potential to transform mobile marketing, offering a richer, more universal and more secure messaging experience. It's also a constantly evolving technology, which could integrate new features in the future, such as augmented reality or mobile payment, which would be yet another step towards a new world for mobile marketing.

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