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The biggest stories at e-SIM Connect and MVNOs Europe 2019
The pressure is on for OEMs
As our own Director of Product, Michael Moorfield, stated as he took to the stage at this year’s e-SIM Connect: what a year it’s been. At last year’s event, we were still reeling from Apple’s surprise announcement to include eSIM in its iPhone X series. Fast forward to where we are now, and Truphone has provisioned over 1.8 million eSIMs, with 10,000 new devices being connected every day.
What’s more, consumers now have access to twice as many eSIM-enabled iPhones – as well as all the latest iPads – and Android looks set to follow suit. In fact, even as we sat in the conference the Google Pixel 4 was launched—fully equipped with radar, four camera lenses and – you guessed it – eSIM support.
Nevertheless, barriers to wider adoption was a running narrative throughout this year’s event. By a show of hands, it was the clear opinion of attendees that OEMs were seen as the primary barrier to eSIM becoming more mainstream, and that a major push from them would then allow MNOs and MVNOs to follow suit.
For this, all eyes fell on Android—what with Google Pixel being the only eSIM-enabled Android device currently on the market. Given that all of Apple’s recently launched hardware supports eSIM, it’s safely assumed that Android will not be far behind. And, if the audience at e-SIM Connect is anything to go by, it can’t come fast enough.
Busting the myths around eSIM
But it’s not all down to the OEMs. During Michael Moorfield’s talk on eSIM and the era of frictionless connectivity, the question of barriers was raised to which the response was: “We can all do a better job of educating customers on what’s possible.” Everyone in the industry has a responsibility to bust the myths around eSIM which do the technology a disservice. eSIM is not here to put MNOs out of business, it’s not simply a roaming tool…and – much to the agreement of the conference hall – it’s definitely not just a QR code.
eSIM is here to make things simpler for everyone, from consumers to OEMs to MVNOs. As one panellist said during the debate around Who is driving the eSIM progress: “Anyone can do integration, not everyone can do customer experience.” And really, that’s what it’s all about—delivering an experience that simplifies and expands what is possible through mobile.
eSIM doesn’t stifle opportunity, it creates it.
5G: behind the buzzword
As expected, the topic of 5G led much of the discussion at this year’s MVNOs Europe but – for once – we agreed with the narrative. It was the general opinion from panellists and speakers alike that, despite the fancy marketing campaigns fed to us on every bus and billboard, 5G won’t benefit consumers for the next two to three years at least.
“It’s a buzzword. Most consumers don’t really know what it is and, in many use cases, 4G or even 3G provides a better service for their needs,” said one panellist in a discussion on 5G licenses as a game-changer for MVNOs.
It’s a truth that is arguably cemented by the fact that Apple has yet to release any plans for 5G implementation. As one panellist put, simply: “If they wanted to, they would.” We can’t help but agree with that!
The real opportunity will be for the B2B market, with panellists agreeing that 5G could arm MVNOs with more freedom to create cutting-edge products and, eventually, enable them to cut costs when doing so.
IoT and the expanding concept of ‘things’
Much future-gazing was done in relation to IoT and the opportunities it presents for MVNOs. The general consensus was that IoT will be a consistent part of the market going forward. This is also where 5G looks to come in genuinely handy as we prepare to connect more and more things.
For MVNOs, there lies an exciting opportunity to branch out into a wider range of industries, made possible by IoT. Across both MVNO Europe and e-SIM Connect plenty of new tech concepts were bought to the table, including luggage trackers, push-to-talk devices and even trackable technology for your dog.
One inspiring talk was led by Matthew Turner, CEO at Goshawk, a company that has developed technology to enable people with hearing problems to use a mobile phone—something that can be nearly impossible with a standard network provider. Using algorithms tailored to a person’s hearing, Goshawk formed Audacious, a UK-based MVNO specialising in enhanced audio experience, to roll out – not only a network – but a day-to-day necessity that would have otherwise not have existed.
There is certainly a buzz in the air as we marvel at what is being made possible, both now and in the future. And we’ll close by quoting one panellist: “If you have an idea, now is the time to go for it.”