French operators want to bury SMS to compete with WhatsApp

Determined to counter the giant WhatsApp, French operators want to offer their customers a new enriched universal messaging service, aimed at replacing our good old SMS.

After two years of visibly conclusive tests, the group of operators AF2M, bringing together Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free, has just announced the official launch of the RCS protocol (for Rich Communication Services). Designed to replace our good old SMS, RCS will allow you to create group conversations, send images, videos and attached files, but also to know if your interlocutor writes, receives or reads your messages. This new protocol will also allow communication without a mobile network, directly via Wi-Fi.

Finally very close to the services already offered by Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal and iMessages, the RCS protocol is already available in beta on some Android smartphones since 2019. However, its formalization via French telecom operators could allow it to definitively impose itself in our communications habits.

Catch up with WhatsApp and Messenger

For AF2M, it is above all a matter of joining together to avoid being further left behind by the giants of the web, WhatsApp and Apple in the lead. Made obsolete by the advent of mobile messaging, SMS – and especially their rigidity – today find it very difficult to adapt to the proliferation of our digital lives. By opting for the RCS protocol, operators hope to convince users to return to their native messaging application on smartphones.

Compete with business offers

While RCS already promise to make life easier for individual users, they could also prove to be very practical when used for commercial purposes. It is with this objective that the telecom operators are acting this week. In a press release published by Renan Abgrail, the president of AF2M explains: “Brands express the need to enter into conversation, by SMS, with their customers. Tomorrow, you will have the possibility to send an SMS to your store to find out if they are your size during sales period; you will have the possibility of ordering a cake in a bakery by SMS; you will have the ability to interact with a delivery company to define exactly the time slot when you want to be delivered to your home ”.

Concretely, these super commercial SMS will now allow customers and companies to communicate more easily, both to contact after-sales service and order products via direct message, and to schedule a delivery. Spurred on by Google, the RCS protocol could quickly become popular on Android. Apple at the moment seems always closed to the idea.

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