Digital transformation has been ever-present in many companies’ over the last few years, but the challenges 2020 has brought, in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, have sharpened this focus to an acute and imminent reality.
This is particularly prevalent when thinking about the mobile industry. It has traditionally been rooted in the physical domain: from bricks and mortar retail stores to plastic SIM cards. However, with consumers growing ever more accustomed to, and expectant of, digital, non-contact solutions, it is a necessity for the mobile industry to make that transformation a priority.
Pioneering Mobile Technology
Over the next couple of years, this surge in digital demand will mean the physical SIM card will soon be consigned to history. Destined to be another example of a clunky stepping-stone on the path to technological nirvana, alongside mobile pagers, MP3 players and Palm Pilots. It will be remembered in moments of nostalgia as a fiddly bit of plastic, accessed only through a bent paperclip.
eSIM, its replacement, represents so much more than a simple phone upgrade. Deemed the ‘silent revolution’, eSIM, something practically unheard of five years ago, is now one of today’s most pioneering technological advancements.
eSIM allows subscriptions to be downloaded straight onto mobile devices in a matter of seconds without the need for customers to visit a retail store or wait for their SIM card to be delivered in the post. It provides customers with easy access to their favourite mobile service providers anywhere in the world via a fully seamless mobile experience.
Particularly with COVID-19, customers can sign up with a new mobile service provider from the comfort of their own home – personalising and modifying their network connections in real-time and even holding multiple profiles on a single device.
eSIM in Action
Imagine you land in a new country and you are welcomed by large posters advertising local mobile plans from mobile network operators at the airport.
You simply need to scan a QR code on one of those posters, and with a few taps on your eSIM-enabled smartphone you are then connected to the network in question, and can enjoy their local mobile data deal, saving you money. If your device also supports Dual SIM, you can still make and receive calls using your home number.
Connected Consumer Devices on the Rise
The GSMA, the trade association for mobile network operators worldwide, is predicting that by 2025 more than a third of all smartphone network connections will be made via eSIM. At Sim Local we believe it could be even sooner, after assessing its growth to date.
Back in 2016, Samsung launched the first eSIM watch device and, ever since, there has been a steady but consistent rise in the number of OEMs offering eSIM enabled consumer devices, from smartphones to laptops.
With Apple leading the way by introducing eSIM into iPhone a couple of years ago, now all the major mobile device manufacturers support eSIM technology in their smartphones and other products as standard.
Earlier this year, the brand-new Motorola Razr was the world’s first smartphone to rely solely on eSIM. Motorola, a relatively new player in the eSIM landscape made a bold move – leading the eSIM transition. We anticipate other players will follow suit by introducing eSIM-only smartphones, in the very near future.
While it has undoubtedly made connecting traditional mobile devices much easier and quicker, thanks to its very small form factor eSIM is now also enabling new smaller and lighter Consumer IoT categories – introducing mobile connectivity into hardware devices where it was previously not feasible, including smart-watches and fitness-trackers.
The leading IoT device manufacturers are adapting existing use-cases and developing new ones with eSIM at the centre, allowing this new generation of wearable tech to operate completely independently from any smartphone.
Looking ahead, eSIM technology is only set to gain greater momentum and evolve as more people and businesses recognise its ability to unshackle existing connectivity constraints and offer services far beyond the limits of the traditional SIM card.
It’s clear the age of the eSIM has already started, but the speed of widespread adoption will depend on those who are able move quickest and steal an advantage on their less agile counterparts. Now, it’s up to mobile network operators to embrace change and accelerate their own digital transformation.
Gary Waite, Head of eSIM Strategy at Sim Local