Despite all the hype around 5G, it is actually eSIM technology that will deliver greater disruption to the telecoms industry and to content providers in 2019. The reality is that 5G won’t see wide-scale implementation and impact over the next 12 months. eSIM, on the other hand, will be the driving force behind changes in OTT experiences - everything from e-commerce to entertainment to IoT.
As eSIM becomes the talk of the telco town in 2019, here are three key trends to look out for:
#1: Mass Adoption
The eSIM revolution is among us and brings a variety of new advantages to consumers - it provides a service that demonstrates value, convenience, and transparency. In a survey presented by Telefonica at the World eSIM Summit 2018, 60% of respondents said they wanted effortless device activation. eSIM provides that; when buying a wearable, a tablet or a smartphone containing an eSIM, a consumer can activate connectivity at the point of sale.
Without a doubt, there are a number of advantages for consumers who adopt eSIM technology. It enables people to switch operators quickly to get connected if they’re in an area with no signal, it frees up space for new features or additional battery life, and it can even reduce the risk of device theft.
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Throughout 2019 we will see consumers embrace eSIM and grow more comfortable of the flexibility it provides. This will result in the eSIM market cementing its position among mobile users, as they opt for pay-as-you-go data services when traveling abroad, in lieu of their home-based carriers. What’s more, consumers may find additional uses for eSIM data services closer to home, in areas where signals are weak or data traffic is highly congested. The ease of use, greater customization and immediacy of the service will find mobile subscribers clamoring for changes from their traditional carriers.
#2: A Rising Opportunity for MNOs
The overall eSIM market is estimated to grow from USD 253.8 Million in 2018 to USD 978.3 Million by 2023. Research shows 80% of MNOs see eSIM as a natural replacement for the physical SIM. The same report highlights 20% of MNOs are keen to develop new eSIM-related projects, with the intention of bringing them to market. eSIM technology will overtake mobile operators who, in turn, are going to need to move on from price and network comparisons and embrace an entirely new playing field.
In order to survive this revolution, MNOs will need to shift their focus from price to offering a level of service that matches network performance, including personalized data plans that can be easily modified anytime and anywhere. While eSIM technology presents a game-changing opportunity for the consumer, it also opens up a host of new possibilities for others in the value chain, including the mobile operator, if taken advantage of in the proper way. In 2019 we will see more MNOs expand their businesses into additional markets, for example automotive, wearables and consumer electronics in an attempt to develop new value-adds to compete for customers and stanch the tide of subscriber churn, while also opening new revenue streams.
#3: Unprecedented IoT opportunity
Gartner estimates that by 2020, the number of connected devices in existence will reach 20.4bn, and by 2025 it could be as high as 82bn. In fact, it’s been reported that by 2024, some analysts believe the IoT market will be worth up to £6 trillion in investments. A key player in this growth is the emergence of eSIM technology and its poised to have a dramatic impact in 2019.
Many operators have welcomed Apple’s introduction of eSIMs with apprehension, yet it should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. This goes for both telcos and device manufacturers, all which stand to benefit from a globally connected IoT. Over the next year, we will see eSIMs driving the success of IoT. Propelled by major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Huawei and Qualcomm, 2019 will see a significant emergence of eSIM and, in turn, smart devices will become more independent from their current service providers. More devices will adopt eSIM in 2019 to enable changing the way users consume their connected content.
As Apple and Android are making dual SIM a reality, with device manufacturers scrambling to follow suit, carriers will pivot toward customer experience as a key differentiator. Dumb pipe cellular service will transition to innovative and on-demand app experiences that put the consumer in control of their talk, text and data use. The impact of eSIM will be far-reaching, and pave the way for more innovative monetization around 5G.