Unlocking the potential of eSIM for consumers

Published: 16 September 2020 - midnight

eSIM has become a hot topic among device manufacturers and its increasing role in the industry is clear – as device manufacturers benefit from lower costs and more space on the processing board . Moreover, eSIM helps service providers to generate new revenue streams, and a future of billions of IoT connected devices

During 2019, two major smartphone manufacturers announced several of their models were now equipped with eSIM functionality. In 2020, many more are following suit. By 2025, GSMA estimates that more than 2 billion eSIM devices will be shipped. This is a strong incentive for the industry to go for eSIM.

But what about consumers like me and you? What can eSIM bring to us?

To answer these questions, Ericsson ConsumerLab has run a market research study, revealing key insights which means customers are ready to take the next step and pay for eSIM services:

1. Cellular connectivity for additional devices is the top application of eSIM that consumers are interested in. 6 in 10 want to connect their laptops to cellular connectivity, yet very few do it today.

2. Every SIM card is problematic, main issue being related to the ever decreasing size of SIM cards.

For consumers, eSIM represents peace of mind, for example 45 per cent mention having access to multiple operators in the same smartphone for emergencies.

3. 6 in 10 smartphones users are interested in eSIM. However, 40 per cent of them have locked smartphones, while73 per cent have post-paid plans with a contract.

4. 29 per cent of smartphone users would consider buying a smartwatch with cellular connectivity if the process of enrollment with the operator was seamless.

According to the report, there are four main eSIM benefits for consumers. Firstly, it excels in connectivity. Consumers say that the need to switch between operators depends on the connectivity performance at various times and places. If the connectivity is great, one operator is enough. So when is switching between operators relevant to consumers? The results took us by surprise – 75 per cent would activate a reasonably priced plan on top of their existing one to ensure access to connectivity.

eSIM is not about swapping back and forth between operators for the sake of just saving a couple of dollars a month. eSIM is about peace of mind! Even smartphone users whose expectations regarding network quality are met want to be able to shuffle between operators. Peace of mind is more important than loyalty when it comes to places out of reach and emergency situations.

The second benefit is Travel specials, which refers to connectivity in the context of travelling abroad. In fact, 1 in 2 yearly travelers connect to mobile data abroad using local SIM card. Imagine that wherever you travelled, you could latch on to any operator and activate a mobile subscription directly in your phone. Travelers that use local SIM cards abroad are particularly interested in a service that would ease the process of choosing the optimal connectivity offering.

The third benefit is connected devices. Smartphones are versatile, boast larger and better screens, and become smarter by the day. With such a device in your pocket, do consumers really need mobile connectivity for other devices? They most certainly do, and surprisingly laptops top the ranks. The main reason why consumers don’t activate LTE on their smartphones are the price and lack of awareness regarding the LTE capability.

A more dangerous obstacle is the enrollment process with the operator – 57 per cent of consumers with cellular-connected smartwatches mention about how cumbersome obtaining a smartwatch subscription had been! Lifting this barrier alone could ramp up the adoption rate tremendously. For instance, 29 per cent of consumers would buy a cellular-enabled smartwatch if only the enrollment process was just one click away.

And finally, Try and Buy is probably the biggest benefit of eSIM for consumers. We see it in the interest level. For example, 86 per cent of respondents want to test at least one feature, which speaks to how genuinely curious we are.

But the real value of Try and Buy offerings relates to 5G. As 5G coverage extends, more and more streaming, gaming, AR/VR shopping and AR/VR learning services will emerge according to latest 5G business potential report. However, only early adopters and digital natives will give them a try. Those following behind need to be convinced that what they are buying is worth it, which is why Try and Buy offerings are so compelling. If 54 per cent of respondents are interested in 5G speeds alone, the interest for immersive video formats and AR applications can only be higher.

The opportunities with eSIM are many. Although eSIM adoption is a concern in the industry, in practice, its implementation can help enrich the relationship with consumers. From peace of mind to redeeming shopping for mobile data, eSIM is valuable to consumers.

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