Answers by: Haider Iqbal, Segment Marketing Manager for IoT, On-Demand Connectivity, and Personal Cloud at Gemalto
Gemalto recently announced a partnership with Orange to enable connectivity for the Samsung Gear S2 Classic 3G smartwatch. What is the significance to the marketplace?
The tri-party initiative by Orange, Samsung and Gemalto brings the first GSMA-compliant consumer electronic device with eSIM connectivity to the market; a market poised to reach 237.1 million shipments by the year 2020, according to IDC. eSIM and remote SIM provisioning are a key component for giving consumers the freedom to connect freely, where and how they want.
This is a big step forward for the wearables market because it’s the first connected watch to deliver inherent connectivity in the device. Until now, smartwatches relied on a WiFi hub or a Bluetooth connection to the user’s smartphone. With Gemalto’s embedded SIM and On Demand Connectivity technology, users can make calls and receive emails with their Gear S2 smartwatch, regardless of their smartphone’s battery life or location.
How does it work and what hurdles were overcome to bring it to market?
The solution is called On-Demand Connectivity, or ODC – and we’re proud to say it’s Gemalto’s. As you might guess from the name, it’s designed to enable connectivity on any device, anytime, anyplace. Built for both the M2M and consumer electronics markets, it uses embedded SIMs (e-SIMs) to ensure users can access the Internet seamlessly throughout the entire lifecycle of a device.
A potential obstacle to the technology’s widespread adoption might have been market fragmentation – embedded SIMs being locked into a single network during the manufacturing process. However, the GSMA, the leading global trade association of mobile network operators, has taken steps to address this problem by facilitating an agreement between 40 key stakeholders on giving people the option to download operator profiles over the Internet. The GSMA’s work has empowered consumers, allowing them to choose service providers for their e-SIM-equipped connected devices. So, if your connection on your smartwatch is weak, you’ll be able to change your provider swiftly and easily.
Where do you see this technology going in the future?
The future is promising for the IoT and e-SIMs – and the implications are profound. The smartphone could see its dominant position challenged by increasingly intelligent and powerful wearables. In the future, rather than looking for your phone to make a call, you’ll be able to speak into your wrist. The GSMA predicts that by 2020, there will be 125 million e-SIM connections worldwide, which could be valued at $174 billion. It’s clear that e-SIMs and On Demand Connectivity are set to make a big impact.
How will the man on the street benefit from this technology?
If you’ve ever worn a smartwatch, then you likely know the frustration of wandering too far from your smartphone to stay connected. For the first time, wearables no longer need to be linked to a smartphone, making things much more convenient for the wearer. If you’re going out for a run and want to stay connected, people are now able to access apps to track time and distance, read texts, and even make calls on their wrist without taking their mobile phone with them. The wearables sector is growing and increasing diversity now encompassing biometric t-shirts, tennis rackets and bikes – embedded SIMs are poised to greatly impact growth. In addition, the technology allows users to share wireless subscriptions, adding new connected devices to existing service plans.
Is this technology available with any devices?
The technology is compatible with virtually any IoT or consumer connected device. We’re proud to be a part of the team that is bringing it to the marketplace for the first time. However, the GSMA has been at the forefront of driving the evolution of connectivity. In its dedicated SIM Reloaded Blog, Jean-Christophe Tisseuil, Head of SIM Technology for GSMA, emphasized how the embedded SIM has a crucial role to play in connected living. WiFi capabilities aren’t always enough. It’s clear that more devices need to be equipped with cellular connection, so that they can work independently without being tethered to a phone.
About Haider Iqbal:
Haider Iqbal is Segment Marketing Manager for IoT, On-Demand Connectivity, and Personal Cloud at Gemalto. He is a tech enthusiast and generalist by nature, who loves finding synergies between different technologies, industries and business verticals. He’s on a life-long mission to drive change, drive a 4X4 and drive a golf ball!