I bet most people were waiting for new iPhone revealed on Apple’s Launch Event in fall this year. Although iPhone X has brought us Face ID as Tim Cook said that he was going to “reveal the product that will set the path for technology for the next decade”, but that revolutionary product was not the iPhone X, as planned. The new Apple Watch is more likely the revolutionary, path-defining product.
Before this launch, Apple Watch more depended on iPhone than stood on its own. Without connection with iPhone, most functions are disabled in Apple Watch which makes it more like an accessory, not an independent product.
But now, Apple Watch 3 totally makes on its own! By cutting the tethers to the iPhone, Apple Watch becomes the smallest platform in Apple’s new computing ecosystem. Imagine that the free-standing Apple Watch as the hub of a body-area network that includes health and fitness assistance, all your big and little data processing such as messages, calendars, calls, and Watch-Based AI Siri to offer you life assistance.
What makes Apple Watch 3 a big deal instead of iPhone X? The answer here is eSIM.
eSIM stands for Embedded SIM. Embedded SIMs differentiates itself from traditional SIM cards by integrating the identification technology of the plastic card into the device’s processor or modem itself.
So what are the advantages of eSIM by getting rid of “physical card”?
- Convenience – Customers can switch to any carrier any time without changing the physical cards. Imagine the time you have spent on visiting stores of the carriers, waiting for new SIM cards when you switch the carrier. Also, eSim makes it possible to activate your phone service online.
- Cost – eSIM technology offers a potential to achieve zero charge on international phone services, which brings carriers a new competitive feature to their customers.
- Safety – the data saved in SIM cards now can be reached if your phones were stolen or lost. Without a real card, your data could be protected by your device codes.
- Smaller and Lighter – Along with Bell’s Law, eSIM is 90% smaller than the current SIM cards which save the space inside smart devices, leaving designers more choices to make devices lighter and prettier.
Even though eSIM looks perfect for bringing us a super easy product, carriers who have to support it to provide data services seem to be unhappy for the reason that eSIM technology takes their control of the customers. Without a physical card, it would be very hard for carriers to retain their customers only if they provide much cheaper services, finally form into a price war. It would cut down carriers’ profits apparently. Therefore, for a long time, all the phone carriers show their attitudes against eSIM which made its development stopped.
However, with GSMA (GSM Association) claiming that eSIM will be the future and releasing several standards of eSIM features, more and more hardware manufacturers and carriers started to cooperate for eSIM research. We can see that Apple Watch 3 is kicking off the progress.
So far, T-Mobile, AT&T and about 20 providers worldwide have said they’ll work with Microsoft to let eSIM-connected PCs buy data from the Windows Store. What that process will look like isn’t clear yet. Microsoft said it’s working on making the carrier-selection process part of the Windows 10 interface. It could be as easy as picking a wireless operator the way you select a WiFi network, then going to the Windows Store to buy the amount of data you think you’ll need.
We can see there is still a bright future for eSIM.
Here is the forecast of eSIM market from McKinsey:
But still, eSIM depends on each party in this value chain pushing together, not just manufacturers. Now the technology is done, it’s time for carriers to find out a new way to do the businesses with eSIM not resisting it.