Mobile operators to gain from embedded SIMs: ABI Research

Mobile network operators could have the most to gain from the crossover of embedded SIMs into smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics devices, according to ABI Research, despite the widespread assumption they would lose out from such a development.

According to the market-research company, embedded SIMs could open up new M2M applications – with greater appeal for hesitant consumers – by allowing users to switch networks.

Mobile network operators could have the most to gain from the crossover of embedded SIMs into smartphones, tablets and consumer electronics devices, according to ABI Research, despite the widespread assumption they would lose out from such a development.

According to the market-research company, embedded SIMs could open up new M2M applications – with greater appeal for hesitant consumers – by allowing users to switch networks.

In the area of consumer electronics and handsets, embedded SIMs would allow operators to be more flexible on subscription management, improve device distribution and activation processes, and remove the current burden of SIM card inventory.

“My recommendation would be for [operators] to embrace such technological developments like embedded SIMs and to drive the market forward rather than looking to block and stifle competition with closed business practices,” said security and ID practice director John Devlin.

“A more open and progressive stance would increase their appeal, open up new business models and use cases as well as drive innovation and build customer loyalty. It would also undoubtedly increase their competitiveness against any likely new entrants,” he said.

Although only 7 million embedded SIMs were shipped in 2012, around 195 million devices are expected to include the technology by the end of 2017, thanks to the advent of standards and subscription management.

The likes of Apple (Cupertino, USA) and Google (Mountain View, USA) would also benefit from the introduction of more embedded SIMs, however.

Those companies have already taken the lead in terms of brand recognition and customer loyalty and sell devices directly to consumers.

Both also have strong and well-populated app stores, providing them with the means to activate and personalize devices.