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The Biggest Announcements at Today’s Apple Event was also the Quietest

by Ken Hyers | 3月 21, 2016

One of the quieter things to come out of today’s Apple presentations for the new iPhone SE and Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro was that the new iPad would include an embedded Apple SIM. This makes the new iPad the first non-M2M and non-wearable CE device to use a true embedded SIM

The Apple SIM has been included in previous iPad models, but this new iteration is different. The earlier Apple SIM was a physical SIM card, installed at the factory, which allowed the user to choose from multiple operators’ data plans and provision cellular service directly from their iPad. The new embedded Apple SIM does the same thing. The difference? The new embedded SIM is hardwired directly into the device and is no longer removable (although the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a dual SIM device, meaning a second physical SIM can be installed and removed).

In itself the new iPad’s eSIM isn’t such a big deal. However, it likely presages an eSIM in an upcoming iPhone, something that operators have been bracing for, for some time. Short of offering its own MVNO, from a carrier perspective an eSIM iPhone would be the most destabilizing change Apple could make to their existing iPhone business model. With an eSIM equipped iPhone a customer need never directly interact with an operator again, instead provisioning service and switching from carrier to carrier at the customer’s whim.  Adding an eSIM to the iPhone would be a direct shot across the bow of carriers. With eSIM, Apple’s grip on the customer will become even tighter.

Strategy Analytics has explored the eSIM segment and forecasts eSIM handset shipments. For more on our perspective on the eSIM market for handsets, clients of our Wireless Device Strategies service can go here to access the report.

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