#4 – SIM evolution

SIMs will keep shrinking through 2012, and will eventually disappear into the cloud

We are gradually moving away from traditional SIM-based cellular connectivity, towards a soft SIM future. Throughout 2012, we will see continued developments in SIM technology to further reduce size – going from recent micro SIMs to nano SIMs – and to increase functionality and flexibility; leading towards a true soft SIM future.

Apple, Google and other third parties will use their power to drive the change to smaller, more flexible SIM solutions in consumer devices, and then ultimately to soft SIMS based entirely on software and hosted in the cloud. Increased adoption of NFC and mobile payments, as well as the exploding M2M market, will require increased and more flexible over-the-air (OTA) provisioning of subscriptions – another driver. Operators will resist as the SIM has always been a critical operator-owned, operator-controlled component, but the change will come.

Perhaps the final straw for the current SIM in handsets and tablets will be the mobile industry’s fear of the growth of WiFi. In 2012, we will see an even greater proliferation of portable consumer electronic devices that take advantage of the effortless provisioning and true out-of-the-box connectivity of WiFi. The user experience and the cost will both be superior to traditional SIM-based cellular connectivity; soft SIMs will be the only way to redress the balance.

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