On Monday, Google and T-Mobile announced a huge partnership, with the carrier agreeing to showcase a suite of Google’s services, including Youtube TV on Android phones sold on the carrier’s network. The list includes officially supporting Google’s Android Messages (with Rich Communication Services) app on all of T-Mobile’s Android phones, letting go of T-Mobile’s own TV services for Google’s YouTube TV, expanding support and sales of Google hardware like the Pixel, and showcasing Google One as the default backup service.
T-Mobile and Google say the carrier has “the most Android smartphone customers in the US.” Native Google services will now be provided to customers instead of less-well-supported services from the carrier or manufacturer.
Google also gets a big win here as it will finally see another US carrier besides Verizon take a real shot at promoting its Pixel line of phones. Pixel sales in the US have not gained any real momentum; however, better results have been achieved since Google started selling less-expensive versions like the 3A and 4A.
But the biggest news is probably that T-Mobile, to favor of YouTube TV, is winding down its Live, Live Plus, and Live Zone services. According to a report by The Verge, customers of T-Mobile will get $10 off that service, and there will be various other offers, including three months free of YouTube Premium.
ANOTHER BABY STEP FOR RCS TOWARD BECOMING THE DEFAULT
For messaging, it’s yet another step forward in the long, complex, and distressing journey to normalize the next-gen RCS (Rich Communication Services) standard across the US. Just this past January, due to some strange backroom dealings, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 devices shipped in the US with Samsung Messages as the default, while Android Messages is what most of the rest of the world got.
Google says, by the end of the year, every Android phone T-Mobile sells will have Android Messages as default.
Google is also providing a small update on its ongoing effort to secure end-to-end encryption for RCS on Android Messages. It reiterated that the rollout for beta testers already started and that it “will continue throughout 2021.” Only inside Android Messages is a fully encrypted chat for 1:1 messages for RCS currently supported, so T-Mobile’s decision to make it the standard will mean that more people will have it made available to them.
Google and T-Mobile are also announcing plans to “build a messaging business together.” That’s a reference to RCS’s ability to be used for business chat — just as iMessage or WhatsApp can be used by you for some businesses. Originally, this seemed like it might be a big driver for adoption since there’s money to be made on the backend as businesses pay for the service, but its potential has not been reached yet.
MAYBE T-MOBILE WILL DO MORE FOR PIXEL PHONES THAN VERIZON
Last and perhaps least, Google One’s cloud storage is being adopted by T-Mobile as the default backup service for Android phones. Unlike with the TV update, it does not seem like there will be any offer discounts. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn believes, “Custom online storage solutions from carriers are a notoriously annoying piece of crapware installed on Android phones — just ask any Verizon or AT&T customer who bought their phone from their carrier.”
When asked for comment, Google says it isn’t “disclosing the financial terms of this deal.”