The launch of a new iPhone is always an important time of the year for mobile operators. In an era where consumers hold their devices for longer, it is a nervous waiting time to see if manufacturers can offer a compelling reason to upgrade.
And with iPhone owners, the problem is even more acute. While manufacturers on the Android market compete for features and prices, most iPhone users will only close their current device for another iPhone.
The iPhone XS, XS Max and XR hope to be attractive to those looking for a premium device, while price reductions for the iPhone 7 and 8 will look like attracting more price-conscious buyers. For operators struggling with the transition to SIM-only rates and SIM-free handsets, this is an opportunity to sell more contracts.
But it is still too early to assess the impact of the most important addition to the new devices – eSIM technology.
The rise of eSIM
In addition to a physical Nano SIM card, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max also include support for a software-driven electronic sim card. Embedded SIM cards are included in a number of Android devices, while they are an essential part of Iot devices (cell or powered or internet).
Apple itself has been a proponent of the technology, including the Apple SIM standard in the iPad Air 2, and with the help of an embedded SIM for the LTE versions of the Apple Watch.
As was the case with so many smartphone innovations in the past, such as Near Field Communication (NFC) or wireless charging, Android manufacturers were the first in the field of adoption, but Apple's union of hardware and software means it's the take them mainstream.
This is why eSIM support in the iPhone XS and XS Max is so important.
Operator business models
"Introducing dual SIMs into all markets is a daring move by Apple and something that mobile operators will give a lot of thought to. After a pioneering technology on the iPad and Watch, it was only a matter of time before Apple the iPhone brought ", says Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.
"The potential for new business models is limited, while Apple still offers a physical SIM card slot alongside the e-SIM capability, but if it eventually decides to lose the physical SIM card, it will have important implications for how customers buy airtime in the future."
Operators can greet embedded SIMs with hesitation. After all, the requirement to physically change a SIM card is one of the biggest obstacles to switching networks when a customer is not satisfied.
With the ability to change networks with a tap on a phone, users can choose from a wider range of services. Many operators allow customers to change their mobile package if their data needs change, but eSIM would allow them to choose from multiple supplier rates.
Likewise, someone may want to move to another network for a short period because his coverage in a certain area is superior.
Dual SIM support
Because Ofcom makes it easier for consumers to leave their operator simply by sending an SMS, it may be wiser for operators to embrace the change because eSIM's new service types and revenue streams can open.
Roaming is the most obvious area that can be transformed. An iPhone user may have a physical SIM card for his home network, but can close a short-term deal with a local operator when on holiday.
"Dual-SIM support is another feature that will appreciate international markets," IHS Markit analysts add. "It is especially important in markets in Asia and other regions where carriers have less control over users, such as in the US.
"This feature also provides an incentive to upgrade to the new devices for users who may have upgraded last year but have been waiting for Dual-SIM support for their personal and business lines for quite some time. this kind of delayed technology roll-out: when Apple waterproofed iPhones, it had a significant impact on the company's position in Japan, as Dual-SIM is another important feature for Japanese users.
"Dual-SIM support has the potential to do the same in many other markets – perhaps providing an important push to upgrade faster than expected."
The launch of the new iPhones also validates two other trends in the industry. The first is that the average screen size of the smartphone increases, while the second is that rising prices can compensate for the shrinking growth.
Although the iPhone sales of Apple is largely flat, the iPhone X is extremely popular, despite the large price tag. The iPhone XS and XS are even more expensive, while higher launch costs give Apple more room for discounts later in the life of the device.
"Apple has to make a careful assessment with these new products," adds Wood. "It is clear to us that customers keep their iPhones for longer than ever, but by raising prices and sales services such as Apple Music, apps and iCloud storage, the company can stream revenue over the lifetime of a device.
"With this launch, Apple is offering its largest portfolio of iPhones to date, with iPhone XS and XS Max calling on iPhone owners who have been looking for upgrades for a long time, while the iPhone XR offers the most advanced features of the iPhone. devices offer a much lower price, albeit with a less capable camera and screen.With the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8 and 8 Plus all on the market, Apple has created a line-up that will deter its competitors. "