Google acquires Jibe Mobile to bring RCS to Android

RCS in Android and Its Impact On Messaging and Operators

Topic of the month covered by WebRTC “activists”

For this month the topic is: How will Google’s acquisition of Jibe Mobile and their plans to add RCS to Android devices impact the messaging market (OTT and operators) and does it have any impact on WebRTC?

Google acquires Jibe Mobile to bring RCS to Android

Starting with my opinion on this topic.

Amir Zmora

Link: TheNewDialTone

With the acquisition of Jibe Mobile and by adding RCS to Android, Google is bringing RCS back to life. Google is doing so because of 2 problems it has:

  • Google didn’t really succeed as it probably hoped with Hangouts. It is not the App of choice for users when they want to IM or voice/video chat with a friend.
  • Google is way behind Facebook in growth (%) of mobile advertisement revenue. Google is paying dearly for traffic acquisition on mobile. For example, Google is paying Apple to be placed as the default search option on iOS Safari.

Google hopes that launching a cross device, cross network RCS like service and giving developers the SDKs to use this service in their applications will make them a significant messaging player. If this happens, it will help them solve both of these problems.

I reviewed the gaps Google has in mobile advertisement revenue and provided some numbers of Facebook’s success in this space on my blog:

Alan Quayle

Link: Alan Quayle

The arguments will continue to rage based on the religion of the person. From ‘Google is grave-robbing zombie technology’, to ‘see RCS will be everywhere, just wait one more year.’ In the limit two statements will hold true,  ‘Google does what’s best for Google’ and ‘only time will tell as Google is not perfect in execution.’ At the start of the year I called for an RCS reset,, read the comments, its a great summary of RCS with may heartfelt reviews. This is a RCS reset, I hope Google takes a pragmatic approach in making aMessage (Android’s version of iMessage) a federation point for all messaging platforms, not just those in a QoS-obssessed club.

Tsahi Levent-Levi


Google is an ecosystems company.

To that end, adding RCS to Android means making it as open as possible. This means:

  • It can’t be limited only to Android or even Chrome OS – it should be available wherever possible
  • It needs to put Google in a point of control – the aggregator/gateway of the messages

This acquisition places Google smack in the middle of two ecosystems:

  1. The carrier’s one, where they can offer inter connectivity
  2. The smartphone, where they now “control” a larger portion of the telco’s messaging part – and that control means better capability of affecting roadmaps of chipset vendors and OEM vendors

I’d expect it also to interwork with Google’s other puzzle pieces – Hangouts and maybe even Firebase or… Nest?

A long form article on it can be found on my website:

Mark Winther

Link: IDC

Jibe is positioned as Apple iMessage for Android.  For carriers who support it, the Jibe messaging icon is pre-loaded on the Android devices.  For Android to Android messages, it goes through the Jibe server rather than through the carrier’s SMSC so there are no messaging charges.  If the message is going off-net, i.e. to a non-Android device or to a user with doesn’t have the Jibe icon, it connects to the carrier’s server and incur normal SMS charges.

JIbe has had some success with European carrier and is pre-installed on Android devices in selected Deutsche Telekom, Orange, KPN, SFR properties.

With Google now backing Jibe, there is a potential to expand the Adroid native IP messaging opportunity.  But Google will be limited by carriers’ decision-making on how to offer this.  They could turn off the feature and force everybody to go SMS, or they could offer it as a separate messaging environement, but charge a small transit fee for the service.

Jibe has always worked with carrier and followed the carrier standards approach.  With messaging, this means integrating with the RCS standard, which has gained little traction so far.

If Google has intentions to leverage this into business messaging application which is the direction being taken by many major OTT chat apps today, it is little room to move.   The RCS specification lacks any framework for business or application-to-person messaging.   The RCS spec only enables traditional person-to-person messaging.   Additionally, RCS lacks enhaced GUI-type graphical interface.  Anybody who has looked at WeChat or FB Messenger lately know that they have very rich graphical interfaces.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Google has powerful and proven resources for advertising and analytics.  Integrating Jibe messaging capabilities with the Google advertiting prowess could present carriers with a new means of monetizating the messaging business.

Dean Bubley

Link: Disruptive Analysis

70% chance that it disappears without trace, as they realise they don’t have enough lipstick to make the pig look attractive

20% chance that it turns into Google iMessage clone with limited RCSin/out as per my blog post

9% chance that it’s repurposed for interactive advertising thing

0.9% chance it’s the basis of Google entering the NFV market

0.09% chance it’s something to do with Fi

0.001% chance it’s about the GSMA vision of RCS as a mainstream paid messaging service

Chad Hart

Link: WebRTC Hacks

I gave up on RCS and IMS long ago and I’m not sure if I should start caring again now. Perhaps the more interesting question is how much a company worth $456 Billion really cares about RCS?

Google has had 184 acquisitions, so how important in Jibe compared to the others, particularly the communications related ones:

  • Android – estimated at least $50M in 2005
  • Marratech – videoconferencing for $15M in 2007
  • GrandCentral – forming the core of Google Voice for $45M in 2007
  • Gizmo5 – SIP & XMPP client for $30M in 2009
  • GIPS which is the main engine in WebRTC for $68M in 2010
  • SayNow voice recognition used in Google Voice in 2011
  • Motorola for $12.5B in 2011

The acquisition price was not announced, but I would be surprised if Jibe ranked close to the average (excluding Motorola) here given their number of employees and the size of the RCS market.

Another question is if the acquisition of Jibe is somehow an indication that Google are doing something different with their real time communications strategy. WebRTC is clearly a huge part of Google’s strategy with numerous groups involved – Hangouts, Chromium, Chrome, Android, Chromecast, U-Proxy, Chrome Remote Desktop, Play Game Services, and likely many more coming. As it pertains to non-messaging capabilities, I suspect any expansion into RCS will cause an equal or greater increase in WebRTC traffic growth.

Schumann Sebastian

Link: Personal page

I think with the Jibe acquisition Google bought three things (from least to most important):

  1. The Jibe piece: Google bought an RCS backend instead of developing it themselves. It has apps as part of the deal and the native piece is implemented not only in their but also other OEMs devices (thanks to carriers’ push). Jibe has iOS/Android support and has also some general platform approach that fits Google (cloud). With all of this, they can act as “RCS provider” for users that lack native carrier support right away. This could be Google’s entrance door, since initially this group of users is the biggest of all.
  2. The RCS piece: They benefited from the connection of operators to help push other OEMs to implement native Joyn and is just taking advantage of that. It can work beyond apps – natively – and carriers will support this. If Google can manage to be the default backend for non-RCS carrier it could essentially have a service like iMessage not only on their own devices.
  3. The Hub piece: It owns now the component for interconnecting operators amongst each other and with their own backend. One can’t “just do RCS” and communicate with anyone who does as well all of a sudden. Carriers are interconnected 1:1 most of the time – with both technical but more importantly contractual agreements. The Jibe hub became (one of) the de-facto RCS interconnect (think GRX/IPX for RCS) solutions. Interconnecting carriers amongst themselves and perhaps eventually with Google’s platform may be an entrance door towards “free interconnect” (Google won’t pay for anything that isn’t SMS or telephony by the message or minute), so RCS is THE chance for a company like Google to get the foot in the door for that: carriers want to see RCS take off and might make compromises that may have a bigger impact than they think in the long term (not because of RCS itself, but applying it to the yet-so-lucrative legacy business perhaps).

I believe essentially Jibe’s mix of technology (cloud, clients, public cloud, hub) and also “political position” (interconnect provider, public cloud operator) what made the deal attractive I believe.


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