Why Windows, Android and iOS need to know what a SIM is
Windows already support the eSIM. eSIMs are embedded SIMs and they’ll come to replace the ‘old’ SIMs that we’ve had in our devices for the last generation. Microsoft have already partnered with Intel, among others, and are starting to produce the digital ecosystem that is required to turn the technology – a replacement SIM – in to a whole product which serves the needs of users.
Soon, every laptop, tablet, Surface book, watch, Fitbit and car will have it’s own SIM built in. Note, these products will not connect to the internet through a phone held by a user in their car. They will have their own SIM and their own personal wireless connection.
That creates an enormous problem for most users and it appears to be something which is not yet on the consideration list of those building the eSIM’s ecosystem.
Microsoft need to care about eSIMs and data
You will have noticed one thing when it comes to the price of mobile data. It’s falling. Data allowances are rising every year. It’s actually extremely easy to avoid extra data charges – it’s just that most people don’t know (and likely don’t care) how to do it.
In fact, in a standard year, less than 50% of people compare their plan and consider moving to a better deal. People on older plans wonder why they’re being overcharged. They’re being charged for their laziness – or, to be kinder – for the fact they’re too exhausted by the time they sit down in the evening to do one more thing and shop around.
Imagine the impact of this sort of reticence when each individual owns half a dozen items containing a SIM. Phone plan costs are already 5% of household budgets. That could easily double. Just as Operating System settings help us manage printers, they now need to be adapted to help us manage eSIMs in the computing products we buy.
There are some facilities to help you manage your data already
The rudiments of an ecosystem are in place, even for technology as nascent as eSIMs.
- There are third party apps :Multiple apps already available to help you manage your data. Show you speeds where you are and compare to other users.
- There are data management facilities in ‘settings’ on your phone : History and trending of your data. Useful because, although you may not be aware of it, the changes in behavior shown by all of us add up to extra data needs and in the end to a requirement to change data plans.
But remember, these apps, as they stand, can only deal with a single phone. The proliferation of hardware which will come with eSIMs included will require that many devices can be managed from a single app.
Once we have an iPhone, a mobile broadband dongle, a connected house and perhaps some family members under a shared data facility, the ability to effectively control the data which is being used across them all will become hugely important.
Summing Up – The eSIM is already here
This is not a pie in the sky discussion. The eSIM is already here. It was included in the Apple Watch 3 – a product which can now access the internet itself.
Both Google (Android) and Microsoft (Windows) as well as Apple and any other device manufacturers who want to use eSIMs, need to engage stakeholders in the industry and start working out how to manage the huge number of data connections that people will be managing. Unless they find a way to make it easy for users to set limits on their usage, compare and optimize their plans, buy one big bundle of data and split it between these devices, these concerns will put a blocker on the success of the eSIM rollout.
Ideally, Microsoft would partner with a comparison site in each territory and work with them to ensure their customers were constantly provided with updated information on what the best deal was for them. The phone companies could sell 100GB data allowances (some already exist with extremely fair pricing) which could be split between all family users.
The eSIM provides what customers need – flexibility and convenience as to when they connect to the internet. But it moves software companies in to the realm of telcos – an arena with which they are not fully familiar. Now is the time for Microsoft and others to be thinking about what it means to their wares.