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Google is not about to launch an iMessage clone

Posted on: October 27th, 2015 by Mobile Communications

Google has deployed a range of services such as Google Talk, Google Voice and Google Hangouts, yet they have not deployed an iMessage-like service despite having the technology and application framework to do so for years.  Those convinced that Google would ultimately deploy their own messaging solution fail to understand the very nature of Android’s open source origins.  There are several license agreements related to Android.  The first is for the base operating system, and the second is for Google Mobile Services.

The Android Operating System components are governed by the Apache License Version 2.0.  Google Mobile Services are under a completely “separate license” from Google, and comprise Gmail, Chrome, Google+, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Translate and Waze.   Google Mobile Services are proprietary and not open source. These applications must be licensed from Google by device makers, and can only be shipped on devices which meet its compatibility guidelines and other requirements.

If Google were to include an iMessage like service in the  Android operating system, device manufacturers (at the demand of their operator customers) would simply strip the service out of their customer specific builds, as permitted under the Apache license — something they cannot do with Apple’s products.  Under Android’s Open Source Platform policy, manufacturers and operators have complete discretion regarding the services and features that are included in their commercial implementations of Android.  Samsung’s version of Android has a different dialer and messaging app when compared to other vendors such as Sony’s version of Android.

Another option is for Google to incorporate the Jibe Client & back-end components into Google Hangouts and make it a part of the Google Mobile Services.  If they do this, they will risk completely alienating the operators and other industry players who have already filed petitions and complaints to the US Federal Trade Commission, EU Competition bureau , Canadian Competition Bureau, Indian Competition Commission, Russian Competition Bureau that Google manipulates their power and dominance within the market to push their Services to be used by phone manufacturers.  They might do this by asking these manufacturers to sign a contract stating that they must pre-install specific Google Mobile Services, in order to get the latest version of the open-source software ‘Android’.

Fundamentally let’s not read more into the press release than is there.  Google’s announcement was that it was including RCS in Android, not Google Mobile Services.

RCS is a fundamental technology change related to more than just ‘messaging’……… it is not an App. The technology needs to be properly integrated with the operating system to function as intended. It is my assessment that they will include RCS in the Android Operating System, and not as a function in Google Hangouts. This announcement gives operators an easy way to ‘opt-in’ to deploying RCS features.

Brent Newsome- Vice President Business Development