Survey results shows that consumers are ready for eSIM

eSIM has become a hot topic among device manufacturers eSIM and its increasing role in the industry is clear: Device manufacturers benefit from lower costs and more space on the processing board; service providers can open doors to new revenue streams, and a future of billions of IoT connected devices can be realized. But what about consumers like me and you? What can eSIM bring to us?

eSIM use cases

To answer these questions, Ericsson ConsumerLab has run a market research study in 5 markets, investigating the view of 5000 consumers, statistically representative for 200 million smartphones users. The study is representative for 200 million smartphone users in Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and the United States.

esim service opportunities

If in the previous blog post we described six eSIM use cases from a service providers perspective, now we put the consumer glasses on and understand consumers’s view of their benefits, as it resulted from the ConsumerLab study. In this post we’ll discuss four main eSIM benefits:

  • Excel in connectivity
  • Travel specials
  • Connected devices
  • ‘Try and Buy’ offerings


Excel in connectivity

Consumers say that the need to switch between operators depends on the connectivity performance at various times and places. If the connectivity is great, one operator is enough. So when is switching between operators relevant to consumers? The results took us by surprise.

eSIM is not about swapping back and forth between operators for the sake of just saving a couple of dollars a month. eSIM is about peace of mind! It’s about ensuring there are no black spots in connectivity, that consumers can go anywhere knowing they have access to the internet. eSIM is needed ‘in a desperate situation to use the internet’ and ‘emergencies that don’t require 911’.

eSIM is about getting piece of mind

As a reader, you could argue that convenience and peace of mind cost money. That’s right. And consumers know it. 80 percent of owners of multiple SIM cards are willing to switch to eSIM directly. This is a no-brainer, as they already pay for multiple subscriptions. Interestingly, even consumers satisfied with the network want eSIM. Seven in ten of them are willing to activate an additional subscription on top of what they have, just for peace of mind.

eSIM:Conveniance and piece of mind cost money



Travel specials

For the sake of simplicity, let’s put ‘Excel in connectivity’ in the context of travelling abroad. Imagine that wherever you travelled, you could latch on to any operator and activate a mobile subscription directly in your phone. Let’s call this service Travel Specials. Does it sound like sci-fi? Well, if you don’t care about the implementation details (and no consumer ever does) there’s nothing fancy about it. In fact, 60 percent of smartphone users would activate a local subscription through Travel Specials without a second thought.


eSIM: Willingness to pay

The figure speaks for itself – where there’s interest, there is willingness to spend. Consumers buying local SIM cards abroad, and those using portable WiFi routers find Travel Specials extremely attractive. They are cost conscious travelers who need to connect multiple devices (whether personal or as part of a group) simultaneously, and they represent 50 to 60 percent of those who want control over their mobile data (not only using free WiFi abroad).


Connected devices

 Smartphones have taken over our lives. They are versatile, boast larger and better screens, and become smarter by the day. With such a device in your pocket, do consumers really need mobile connectivity for other devices? They most certainly do, and surprisingly laptops top the ranks. 63 percent of respondents want to connect their laptops to mobile networks. But why don’t we see this interest reflected in the market? 4G LTE laptops are not new and very few consumers today activate LTE on their laptops.

Part of the explanation, say device OEMs, is a lack of awareness. To test this hypothesis, laptop manufacturers gave free data to laptop users for a month. Adoption rates went up after the trials confirmed what the manufacturers suspected: lack of awareness is a barrier. What about other devices? What is stopping users from activating LTE on smartwatches?

eSIM: interest for other types of devices

One barrier is, of course, price. Cellular-enabled smartwatches cost 20-25 percent more. A more dangerous obstacle is the enrollment process with the operator: 57 percent of consumers with cellular-connected smartwatches mention about how cumbersome obtaining a smartwatch subscription had been! Lifting this barrier alone could ramp up the adoption rate tremendously. For instance, 29 percent of consumers would buy a cellular-enabled smartwatch if only the enrollment process was just one click away.

eSIM enrollment

Smartwatches are just one category of smart wearables. Think about the plethora of 5G devices coming our way. The revolution has just started. From sleek AR glasses, to smart wearables and 4K streaming neckbands, the 5G devices of the future need to be connected. But if getting a subscription is complicated, consumers won’t bother.


Try and buy


eSIM top offerings to explore

Try and Buy is probably the biggest benefit of eSIM for consumers. We see it in the interest level. For example, 86 percent of respondents want to test at least one feature, which speaks to how genuinely curious we are. But the real value of Try and Buy offerings relates to 5G. As 5G coverage extends, more and more streaming, gaming, AR/VR shopping and AR/VR learning services will emerge according to latest 5G business potential report. However, only early adopters and digital natives will give them a try. Those following behind need to be convinced that what they are buying is worth it, which is why Try and Buy offerings are so compelling. If 54 percent of respondents are interested in 5G speeds alone, the interest for immersive video formats and AR applications can only be higher.


In conclusion: eSIM for me and you

In this blog post, we revealed the results from one part of our ConsumerLab survey. The results are clear: consumers are not only ready for eSIM – they want to have it now. For connected devices, an area that will undoubtedly expand, it’s all about convenience. For ‘Excel in connectivity’ we see that there’s great value eSIM brings to consumers, results showing that smartphone users are willing to pay for it. And last and not least, ‘Try and buy’ is attractive by ensuring consumers they can first try and then subscribe to services they like.

Download survey


In the next blog post Exploring eSIM for consumers: unlocking the opportunities, I’ll be highlighting consumers’ interest in two other innovative ways eSIM could Marketing Campaigns and Events Experiences.

Learn more about Ericsson's eSIM technology

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