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eSIM Report

Beyond M2M: eSIM Status & Forecasts
Overcoming practical & economic issues for mid-term consumer-market eSIM adoption. Published August 2016

Disruptive Analysis has published a 36-page report on the emerging technology of eSIM and SIM remote-provisioning. The focus is on the use-cases, practicalities, drivers and obstacles for bringing eSIM-based devices to market, alongside suitable mobile data plans or subscriptions.

The report addresses both the motivations (lower costs, higher revenues, better experience) and problems (business-case, user journey, regulation, transition) that will be experienced by operators (MNOs) and device vendors (OEMs).

Forecasts are given for annual shipments of eSIM-enabled devices (phones, wearables, M2M, tablets), and for the installed base that will be a target for after-market eSIM provisioning.

Key findings:

  • There are numerous use-cases for “remote provisioning” of SIMs with mobile operator “profiles”, especially where the SIM hardware is built-into devices
  • eSIM adoption will have a slow start. 2016-17 consumer deployment will mostly be early concepts, allowing MNOs and OEMs to gain practical eSIM experience and refine implementation and processes. eSIM phones will emerge very gradually.
  • Adoption should ramp up in 2019-2021 as cost, industry value-chain and user-experience problems are progressively solved.
  • Apple and Samsung are unlikely to use eSIM to become MVNOs / carriers. Neither will they aggressively push eSIM into their flagship products.
  • For many M2M/IoT devices, the eSIM decision is secondary to justifying the extra cost, space and power needs of the cellular radio itself. 
  • eSIM is "necessary but not sufficient" to drive adoption of cellular M2M. It is unlikely to change the competitive dynamics vs. LPWAN technologies like SigFox or LoRa.
  • There remain unanswered questions about regulation, customer-support and business model for eSIM. Although some projected cost-savings are attractive for operators, it is unclear that it will help OEMs generate extra revenues/loyalty.
  • There will other approaches to remote provisioning beyond GSMA's vision of eSIM. Some OEMs may adopt proprietary versions, while standards-body ETSI is intending to develop specifications which go beyond just mobile use of chip-cards
  • Most eSIM-enabled smartphones will be hybrid eSIM / removable-SIM.
  • By 2021, 630m mobile & IoT devices will ship with embedded SIMs annually, driven mostly by smartphones, although vehicles and tablets show growth earlier.
  • By end-2021, the installed base of eSIM-enabled devices will exceed 1 billion
  • While significant, this only represents around 10% of total cellular connections
In a nutshell: eSIM is an important evolution for some use-cases, but it is neither an outright "game-changer" nor a major risk to traditional cellular business models.

To purchase the report, see below

Report Contents

Executive Summary

Introduction & Outline

The Potential

   What is eSIM / eUICC?
   New uses for eSIM & other programmable-SIM technologies
   A device-centric view of SIM provisioning            
   A growing variety of “SIM evolution” options
The Practicalities            

   Economics and demand
   SIM/eSIM irrelevant if radio module costs too high         
   Operational issues          
   User experience             
   Retail and channel management             
   Maintenance and lifecycle-management              
   Transition issues: the need for hybrid SIM + eSIM devices            
   Regulatory considerations          
   Ecological considerations: fit with other telecoms trends
The Phones       

   Low-end vs. high-end phones
   Apple-specific considerations
Conclusions and Forecasts         

About Disruptive Analysis            

Figure 1: Understanding the definition & semantics of “eSIM”    
Figure 2: Advantages of “programmability” vs. “embeddability” varies by device
Figure 3: SIM evolution – multiple variants are emerging, not just GSMA eSIM    
Figure 4: SIM evolution – costs and key stakeholders      
Figure 5: Few handsets’ gross margins can sustain extra BoM cost from eSIM      
Table 6: Forecast eSIM shipments, by device category, 2016-2021            
Figure 7: eSIM shipments, by device category, 2016-2021            
Figure 8: eSIM device shipments, hybrid SIM/eSIM vs. eSIM-only
Table 9: eSIM active installed base, by device category, 2016-2021          
Figure 10: eSIM installed base, by device category, 2016-2021    
Figure 11: Overall SIM & eSIM active installed base, end-2021    

Ordering & payment

The report (delivered as a PDF) costs:

    US$900 for a 1-3 user licence
    US$1500 for a corporate-wide licence + a free 1-hour conference-call discussion
    (plus VAT in UK/EU as appropriate)

Payment is via credit-card and Paypal (see below), or send a purchase-order and invoicing details by email to information at disruptive-analysis dot com. The report will be emailed to you within 24 hours of receipt of payment. 


[Note: Sometimes Paypal's credit-card transaction process is a little variable, especially with corporate cards. Please drop me an email if you have problems]

eSIM Report, 1-3 users

eSIM Report, Corporate

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