Google has acquired Jibe Mobile, the company that powers rich communications service (RCS) for Deutsche Telecom, Sprint and other global wireless operators.
Terms of the deal, announced Wednesday afternoon at the bottom of a Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) blog post, were not released. RCS is the GSM Association (GSMA) -backed technology for advanced messaging services built on an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) backbone, including video calling, presence, photo sharing and enhanced messaging.
Jibe Mobile has been powering these type of RCS services -- primarily native WhatsApp-style messaging at this stage -- for wireless operators since 2010 and has raised $9.1 million in funding since its founding in 2006. Google notes in its blog that Jibe will continuing working with its carrier partners after it is part of the Android maker.
Jibe powers RCS for 26 operators, including Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) via an RCS-powered app, and it recently launched the Jibe Hub to build interoperability across operators' disparate RCS messaging services. (See DT Backs Jibe's Cross-Carrier RCS.)
Interest in the IMS-based technology has come in fits and starts in the face of over-the-top competition with the most traction building in Europe. The US is expected to see a resurgence in interest in enhancing its text and video communications through RCS, however, now that voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) is becoming more widely deployed, and T-Mobile US Inc. has fired the opening salvo with its launch of native RCS services. (See T-Mobile Launches RCS Messaging, Deutsche Telekom Outlines Its RCS Evolution and Sprint Jibes With OTT Comms.)
Google's interest in Jibe and RCS centers on improving the messaging experience on Android-powered devices, something Mike Dodd, Android RCS software engineer and "minister of messaging," says will take time and collaboration throughout the wireless industry.
"Many leaders in the wireless industry have already put great work into laying the foundation for RCS, and we've heard from many of them that there are ways Android can help," Dodd writes. "We're excited to team up with mobile operators, device makers and the rest of the Android ecosystem to support RCS standards and help accelerate their deployment in a more consistent way."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading