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Apple SIM has great potential, but widespread changes will take time

Mikael Ricknäs | Oct. 20, 2014
New Apple iPads allow users to choose between data plans offered by different cellular carriers without having to obtain a separate SIM from each. But that's only the beginning as embedded SIMs like the new Apple SIM have the potential to change the way all devices connect to cellular networks.

"There are major differences between a data SIM and a full voice and data SIM, where you have huge complexities in how it's managed. And equally operators remain in a strong position because subsidies are such a key part of that offering," he said.

The Apple SIM may well be part of a very long journey towards embedded SIMs on smartphones, according to Wood.

The introduction of embedded SIM technology is for now about reducing M2M connection costs. The use of traditional SIMs for transportation, utility metering and other applications can be problematic, as devices are often remotely located and hermetically sealed. It also allows for over-the-air operator provisioning, which is really useful when you have to manage a large fleet of vehicles, for example.

Here the operators have again had to get on board even in they see embedded SIMs as a threat.

"In order to be able to support global deployments of connected cars and consumer electronics you need this capability. It's a necessity to build a market," said Matt Hatton, director at Machina Research.

 

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