With the introduction of the embedded SIM (eSIM), device manufacturers and service providers do not need to physically access devices to provision, remove, or update cellular credentials.
A recent report from Juniper Research estimates that global eSIM deployments across all consumer verticals will increase by 170 percent over the next four years. Widespread adoption will rely on backing from network operators, which means device manufacturers need to pressure operators to support eSIM frameworks and accelerate market maturation.
In August, AT&T and Kigen announced that they are working together to help customers streamline their supply chains. Enterprises that want to leverage SIM, eSIM, and integrated SIM (iSIM) secured connectivity in their IoT devices can now use Kigen services to have their products ready to connect to AT&T networks.
Recently, Apple launched the new iPhone 14 series. For the first time in the North American market, the new iPhones do not have a SIM slot. Instead of activating a physical SIM card, iPhone 14 users must get their account credentials provisioned by their carrier of choice. For consumers, the eSIM gives the flexibility to have several accounts on the same device and quickly activate another account or change service providers.
Other connected devices, such as tablets, wearables, and millions of sensors, have been using only eSIMs or iSIMs for some time. Deploying connected devices, such as smart meters or security cameras, requires an easy, remote way to onboard and manage those units. The carrier credentials for those devices are provisioned over the air.
To talk about the implications for the channel of Apple’s move to eSIM only, and how Kigen is working with service providers and OEMs, we spoke with Kigen’s CEO, Vincent Korstanje.
The following is a transcription of our conversation with Korstanje, edited for clarity.
The Channelist: Good morning, Vincent. Apple recently announced the eSIM-only iPhones in the U.S. What does that mean for the industry in general?
Korstanje: From an eSIM point-of-view, this is great. We are very focused on the IoT side of the market. But having a company like Apple drive standardization through the market, and make it a default selection in the U.S., will energize the collaboration between all the players to make it work.
The Channelist: What about your partners, especially operators and device manufacturers? How does this new eSIM adoption in smartphones help you open more channels, especially partnerships?
Korstanje: I have a slightly different angle on that, but I think the market needs partnerships. We come from a heritage of being founded by Arm, and Arm really works in this collaborative model to bring many solutions to the market.
When you look at IoT and mobile, having multiple players collaborating and working together allows you to have more solutions. And if you get more solutions, you can focus more on what customers want. Then it becomes efficient to have all kinds of niche solutions.
The Channelist: When you’re looking at the smartphone market, Apple is actually betting on eSIM as the standard for securing devices. But in many places, many cellular operators are not ready for that, especially the MVNOs. Are you looking into partnerships with those to help them transition to the eSIM?
Korstanje: Absolutely. It is all about bringing that solution and the ease of that solution to customers. In the mobile market, it is clear we have to work together.
But I think the introduction of that eSIM-only device in the U.S. will hopefully make everybody aware that it’s really important now to come up with seamless solutions. Especially on Christmas morning — you want to unwrap your new present, it has to work. So, we’re working now, partly with the MNOs, but also the large MVNOs, to make sure that we get this adoption.
The Channelist: Vincent, thank you so much for your time today. Looking forward to seeing you at MWC Barcelona.