Ever heard of a subscriber identification module? For many of us, it’s something we use every single day. A subscriber identification module is the technical name for a SIM card. And quite simply, it’s that little plastic thing we put into our phones that is critical to the use of the device and carries an identification number unique to the owner.
Fast forward a few years and the humble SIM card has evolved. Today, we have something called an eSIM. This stands for embedded SIM and is a SIM card that cannot be, and doesn’t ever need to be, removed from a device.
eSIMs recently came into the spotlight when the likes of Apple and Google launched some of their new gadgets. For Apple it was their Watch Series 3, for Google it was the Pixel 2 phone. In the case of the Apple watch, having an eSIM meant that the wearer can use this wearable device autonomously. It will use the same number as your iPhone but you’ll be able to enjoy a seamless experience from the one device to the other. Pretty cool, right?
But what are the downsides? With many business executives still struggling to wrap their heads around the monitoring of generic mobile technologies in their organisation, what do eSIMs mean for corporate device management?
For starters, we need to point out that eSIMs can only function if they are supported by your network or carrier. As such, this technology has the potential to change the competitive landscape for carriers. Consequently, eSIMs have been described as one of the biggest game changers of the year. Understandably, the industry’s response has been mixed. Locally, Vodacom is currently the only service provider to throw their hat into the ring to support eSIMs in the new Apple Watch.
For telecoms stakeholders the adoption of eSIMs as the standard across consumer devices brings several advantages. These include:
- The use of “blank” SIMs to allow IoT-enabled product manufacturers (like connected-cars or wearables) to be activated in a different destination country. Allowing them to expand their reach and offer new products in new market segments.
- Mobile network operators have an opportunity to take the lead in the IoT market. This is more convenient for consumers who now have a single SIM across multiple devices. Think about a single SIM for your phone, car and wearable device.
- Consumers can change providers without having to carry multiple SIMs around, which makes it easier to avoid roaming charges.
- Utilising the space that was once taken up by a regular SIM card, mobile device manufacturers have the opportunity to add more functionality to devices without having to make them much bigger.
How eSIMs will affect channels, operating models
While some network operators are not supporting eSIMs just yet, many are exploring the technology and its potential impact on how they communicate with their customers.
From a marketing and sales perspective, adding secondary devices like an eSIM-enabled wearable to a consumer’s monthly data contract may just improve take-up rates for these new services. However, with it being so simple to switch operators and offers, this could lead customers to move around more as they seek more dynamic contracts and offers.
Also consider how an eSIM affects a service provider’s interaction with their customers. People no longer need to visit a store to purchase a SIM card. This makes it important for operators to come up with new ways to get customers to visit their stores. In line with this, many existing services will need to be reimagined and redesigned to accommodate this new technology.
Is it time for you to relook at your telecoms ecosystem and rethink your strategy? If the answer is yes, we’re here to help. To find out more about Nebula and what we do, complete the form below and we’ll be in touch.