Call it the Godzilla problem. Apple is so big and influential that every step it takes will have huge consequences for someone, somewhere. When Godzilla goes for a walk, he leaves behind huge footprints (and, let’s face it, a lot of crushed stuff).
And like any major corporation (or nuclear kaiju), Apple knows when it’s time to act light-heartedly and when it’s time to back it up. Every choice it makes, especially where the iPhone is concerned, can move markets, make or break suppliers, and disrupt the trajectory of the tech industry.
When Apple announced the iPhone, it broke the control wireless carriers had over our phones. Apple would bring the iPhone to the company that agreed to keep its paws off the phone’s Apple-built interface, AT&T (then Cingular) agreed, and the rest is history.
Now Apple is back at it again.
eSIMs for some
With the iPhone 14 models, Apple is using its weight to drive the adoption of a new technology: eSIMs. For years, all cell phones contained a small smart card called a SIM card that held the “identity” of those devices so they could connect to the cellular network. As time went on, it became obsolete — that information could just as easily be stored on devices and even transferred from device to device. And so someone invented the eSIM, which did just that, and SIM cards were destined for ruin.
(As with so many new technologies, Apple wasn’t the first to release a phone that supported eSIM. Samsung seems to be winning that accolade.)
But the world is slowly changing, and it’s so much easier to just carry on doing business as usual. So while eSIMs have become more popular, the SIM card is still required in many countries. Carriers apparently worry that eliminating the need for a physical card will make it easier for customers to switch networks. But I think they are mostly afraid of change. And don’t want to do the extra work to change if you don’t have to.
Do you hear those footsteps? Godzilla is coming.
Apple forces change
All iPhone 14s sold in the United States do not have a SIM card slot. It’s just not there. And this will have a powerful effect on wireless carriers around the world. Here in the US, it will drive eSIM adoption. iPhone users have been able to use an eSIM since the new models launched in 2018, but 100 percent of upgraders to the iPhone 14 will have to make the switch.
(Apple has been pushing users in this direction for a while now, with recent phones shipping without a SIM card installed. Of course, users can add one of their own, but it’s so easy to just give in.)
Of course, Americans travel too, and given the iPhone’s large market share, the demand for eSIMs will increase. Carriers in other countries that like to sell SIM cards to tourists should familiarize themselves with eSIMs if they haven’t already. The ball will keep rolling. eSIMs will continue on their path to inevitability.
Benefits of Apple… in the end
In the long run, it’s clear that Apple wants to stop building SIM slots in iPhone models. In the short term, though, it just can’t – so it’s making two different versions of its phones, for the US and for the rest of the world. (That’s not new — Apple has been making big iPhones with dual SIM slots for the Chinese market for a while now, believe it or not.)
In the long run, eliminating the slot will be good for Apple as it eliminates another potential point of water and dust ingress, an clunky little metal SIM slot, and the space inside the iPhone case dedicated to reading the SIM card.
Unfortunately, there is almost no benefit to Apple in the short term. The company cannot make two completely different designs of the inside of the iPhone, one for the US and one for everyone else. That’s why, when iFixIt tore the iPhone 14 Pro apart, it found a small plastic spacer where the SIM socket should be. Until the SIM card is beaten everywhere, the iPhone design will still be complicated.
But now that Apple has started to push, SIM card defeat is inevitable. The people of the city can’t fight Godzilla – they just have to get out of the way.
Where now, monster?
This year, we’ve seen Apple’s influence grow in a few other interesting areas. Certainly, the announcement of Emergency SOS via satellite has changed the game in satellite data services for consumer mobile devices. Elon Musk and T-Mobile went so far as to pre-empt Apple’s announcement with their own press conference, announcing that SpaceX’s Starlink service would eventually partner with T-Mobile’s wireless network to close the carrier gaps. to fill.
Given that Apple has reportedly purchased 85 percent of its satellite network capacity from its partner Globalstar, there is bound to be a run in satellite capacity – and many new data satellites to be launched. (Apple’s satellite connection comes via a Qualcomm 5G modem chip, but while its competitors can buy the chip, they’ll have to find limited satellite data sources somewhere in the meantime.)
As the operator of two of the most popular computing platforms in the world, Apple’s commitment to the new WebAuthn standard — which Apple calls Passkeys — is making widespread adoption of that standard a fait accompli, especially given that Google and Microsoft are on board. . Likewise, the new Matter standard for smart-home devices gave Apple and some of its major competitors to declare peace and ensure that the new standard crosses the finish line.
So what’s next in terms of world-changing steps for Apple? Unfortunately, Godzilla doesn’t answer his voicemails.