Interesting article where the mobile Telco may evolve in the (near?) future as the adoption of the virtual sim will spread across devices and services.
Existing OTTs players will keep building value added services on top of existing Telco services (as is) AND start providing real time brokering service to pick up the best voice/data tariff (with VoLTE all IP based traffic) across Telco operators, billing and invoicing customers!
Are Operators doomed to be disintermediated and OTTs act as pervasive “Smart” MVNOs?
Apple SIM quietly introduced
Anyone who saw last week’s Apple keynote (where the company predictably introduced new iPad, Retina iMac and Mac Mini models) probably missed the moment when Apple quietly introduced its carrier-neutral Apple SIM in cellular versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, in what could prove to be a disruptive move for the mobile industry.
What is it?
The Apple SIM is a standard size data only nano-SIM that comes preinstalled in the iPad Air 2 (the only device that supports it, for now). This means that instead of having to swap out SIM cards, customers can simply select any of the supported operators from the iPad’s settings menu.
Traditional SIMs contain details such as the MSISDN (the customer’s phone number) and an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), a unique number that identifies the actual subscriber. The Apple SIM contains a degree of flexibility in that some of the information it stores can be changed in software.
Despite the fact this type of SIM card has been reported in the media as being a virtual SIM (or soft SIM), it is still a long way from being a true virtual SIM that lets consumers pick any operator in the world. In fact, it’s not a virtual SIM at all – there is still a physical card in the device.
A threat to the networks, or an opportunity?
The main advantage of Apple’s new SIM is that there is no need to be tied into a contract with any one mobile network, and you can basically get data on your iPad whenever you need it. You have the freedom to use any network that has a deal which meets your needs
How will it affect the networks? As soon as you discover a network that supports the Apple SIM, you might also notice a special deal available with cheap data prices, so you could switch networks for a while. Then you might change again later on to take advantage of a better deal with someone else. The upshot is, the networks might be forced to become much more competitive.
Imagine if this was available for the iPhone – you would switch it on and see a selection of networks all competing for your custom. Apple could even become a virtual operator who charges levies all data charges, but would be able to constantly find you the best deal and network.
Will the Apple SIM eventually be available on the iPhone? It seems unlikely for the time being – it currently makes sense for the iPad which tends not to be subsidised by the operators, but there is less incentive (for the networks) to offer this for the iPhone, as the handset’s true cost is usually subsidised and they want to lock customers in for 2 year contracts. If Apple did bundle it with a new iPhone in future, the operators would most likely fight tooth and nail.
Read full article here