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With telcos and its new product ‘Chat’, Google attempts to kill ‘SMS’ from India and elsewhere


Despite the dominance of the instant messaging apps including WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger, short messaging service aka SMS is still relevant and thriving as well. To give you a sense, Google estimates that about 8 trillion SMS-based messages are sent every year.

The aforementioned figure may appear meek in contrast of 20 trillion texts exchanged on WhatsApp globally. So far, the Facebook-owned company along with a handful of others didn’t able to make SMS obsolete and irrelevant.

We (especially Android users) all at some time or another realize the importance of SMS.

While Apple had made SMS redundant for its users, Android-powered phones are bound to switch to SMS at times when WhatsApp can’t be used. This is a huge problem to solve for Android-enabled devices.

And, none other Google seems closer to have derived a solution.

After multiple and a decade-long tryst to build chat products, the Alphabet-owned company once again has taken a leap with ‘Chat’.

Chat seems to be a perfect SMS killer product and is based on Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Notably, Google is not completely doing Chat by itself. It’s gathering all telcos to power its latest attempt to weed out SMS from Android-enabled phones.

Besides 52 other telcos worldwide, in India, it had partnered with Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone including indigenous phone makers – Lava and Intex. According to Anil Sabharwal, VP of Products at Google, Chat would take at least more than a year to see the light of the day.

“It would likely to take more than a year to launch Chat for masses,” said Sabharwal in an interview with The Verge. Importantly, Google is also hitting pausing button on its instant messaging app Allo.

With Chat, Google is eyeing to cover more than 1 billion Android users globally. Currently, India has about 400 million smartphone users, out of which  265 million phones run on Android.

Of course, yet another ambitious effort of Google to make SMS irrelevant would much depend on its adoption in thriving smartphone markets including India, Brazil, and other Southeast Asian countries.

Nevertheless, in a bid to kill complete relevance of SMS, Google requires to bring several competing telcos in any given market under one umbrella (i.e; Chat) won’t be a smooth ride for the California-based company.

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