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Have we reached peak smartphone? No chance.
If you were beginning to think the only thing left to innovate on your connected devices was another camera or a facial recognition feature, you're wrong.
A technology has been developed that is set to revolutionise the connected world. The eSIM is a rewritable chip that comes pre-installed in a device that grants OTA (over-the-air) access to networks - in other words: seamless connectivity. This has the potential to remove the need to separately purchase a SIM card, as customers will be able to join mobile network plans through a quick tap within the software itself.
You might not be able to see it, but the eSIM is a gamechanger.
eSIM is already available with a few gadgets on the market, but it is only recently being incorporated into smartphone technology. It offers customers more seamless connectivity with their network and other devices. In this way, the eSIM will allow for greater growth in the IoT community (the connectivity of multiple platforms).
What's in it for customers?
Convenience. On the more trivial end of the spectrum, it means that when your smartphone, smartwatch or tablet arrives, it will be - for the first time - a truly out-of-the-box gadget. You won't have to put the SIM card in manually (it's already there) nor will you, as many will remember, have to wait a number of days for the SIM card to turn up (again, it's already there). It's a pivotal shift in how we purchase our connected technology.
More fundamentally, the embedded SIM grants the end user greater choice and tighter control over their own connectivity. Because customers will be able to change network provider at the touch of a button, they have access to a broader, and eventually richer, range of network deals that best suit their needs.
This is especially beneficial for travellers who may finally be able to rid themselves of exorbitant roaming charges - customers can simply switch to a local network wherever they are in the world.
Some new smartphone models are already planned to incorporate both an embedded SIM chip and a SIM tray - allowing for the equivalent of a dual SIM plan - prevalent and extremely popular in many Asian markets. There, customers can separate corporate and personal mobile plans and set up more cost-effective network deals.
What's in it for MNOs?
The eSIM isn't just a convenience for customers, of course. It has potential to open doors for mobile operators to become more widely available on a variety of different devices within the IoT portfolio. A seamless network drawn between all these devices would create a smoother experience for technological interaction. Mobile networks could then use this new IoT connectivity to create bundle deals to appeal to consumers.
Not to mention, eSIM technology presents a range of opportunities for service providers to market themselves more effectively. Because users will be able to connect to a mobile network OTA (over-the-air), this introduces a greater number of touchpoints for networks to connect and build relationships with their customers. Where once a physical plastic chip had to be procured, now getting a new data plan could be as simple as scanning barcodes from an advertisement.
Even from a purely financial perspective, the handover of SIM card installation to manufacturers is estimated to save tens of millions of pounds for medium-sized MNOs.
What's in it for manufacturers?
Phone manufacturers are constantly trying to provide a better and more convenient experience for consumers. To do this, space (or 'tech real-estate') needs to be made available to provide new features. The embedded SIM could act as the latest method for obtaining this coveted space. The removal of the SIM tray would grant manufacturers access to add more amazing features to our phones.
What's in it for the environment?
A frequently overlooked advantage of the eSIM is that it also limits the production of plastic.The abolition of the removable SIM devices would save 30,000 tons of plastic every year, regardless of the packaging and distribution needed to distribute the six billion SIM cards produced annually around the world.
Every year, mobile networks continue to bin large portions of their manufactured SIMs because of miscalculations in scale. Because the embedded SIM chip shares the lifetime of the device itself, only one SIM would have to be produced.
Widespread adoption of this technology, then, is not just good for the user, nor the networks or manufacturers, but the environment - offering an enormous contribution to the much-needed redressing of the pervasiveness of plastic in our everyday lives.
Currently, billions of physical SIMs are being put to waste. It is time to start building a better, greener future.
Even considering the many recent advances to incorporate the eSIM into mainstream devices, the eSIM is still very much in its infancy. But its potential could create a wide-reaching impact on the world of technology. And the world as a whole.
Find out how Truphone is building a better future here.