How Android, Worlds Most Popular Mobile OS, Is Preparing For eSIM

Google’s Android is –by far– the world’s most popular mobile OS among consumer connected devices.

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In the smartphone market, Android literally atomized the mobile OS competition consigning Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Phones to oblivion. More than 85% of the smartphones shipped in 2018 run on this operating system. What a journey since its 3.9% market share when it first launched back in 2009! 1.2 billion new smartphones were sold in 2018. This figure is predicted to rise to 1.35 billion by 2022.

Logically, the OS from Google gets an indisputable position in terms of installed base with 2.7 billion smartphones equipped. This is more than 4 out 5 smartphones in circulation!

Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t have bet a cent for such a success for the little Green Robot when it first started… My apologies.

In the tablet market, Android wins the crown too: it holds a 58% market share with 105 million units sold in 2018.

In the wearable market, Android–when combined with Wear OS–is expected to take the lead by 2022 with 37 million smart wristbands / smartwatches sold. Wear OS, also known as Wear OS by Google and previously called Android Wear, is a version of Google’s operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables.

Such an impressive hegemony has been made possible thanks to the largest supporting OEM and ODM device manufacturer community which includes companies such as Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, LG, HTC, Sony, Xiaomi, Motorola, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, Google, OnePlus, BlackBerry, Asus, Alcatel, ZTE, Casio, Kyocera, Dell, Philips, Toshiba, CAT, Micromax, Acer, Panasonic…

Google is also very active in the Home and Connected Cars markets.

Android logically leads the race in a number of countries for #1 mobile OS position. In particular, Android is known for being massively used by people in developing and fast-growing economies, such as China, India, Africa, South-East Asia South America. A recent survey suggests that there is a correlation between the GDP per capita of a country and that country’s respective smartphone OS market share. Google’s app store Android Play has the largest free app rate and the lowest median price for paid apps compared to Apple’s App Store.

Android eSIM support: a major accelerator for the eSIM

Starting with Android 9 Pie, Android now supports eSIM: the Android framework provides standard APIs for accessing eSIM and managing subscription profiles on the eSIM. These eUICC APIs enable third parties (e.g. mobile operators) to develop their own carrier apps and Local Profile Assistants (LPAs) on eSIM-enabled Android devices.

Let’s go deeper for a second:

An eSIM-equipped handset must embed a Local Profile Assistant (LPA), standardized by GSMA Remote SIM Provisioning specifications. Directly built into Android Pie OS, the Pie’s LPA exchanges with the Subscription Manager (SM-DP+) and the eUICC while the mobile operator-branded Carrier App provides the User Interface to allow the user to request eSIM profile downloads and optionally switch between them.

If Android can’t claim to be the first mobile OS to introduce an eSIM (Samsung’s Tizen-based smartwatch), Pixel 2 was the first major smartphone with eSIM (even though it was a closed and non-GSMA compliant version, intentionally locked to only work with Google’s own Project Fi).

With Android Pie, the eSIM device expansion has definitely begun. Announced in October 2018, Google’s Pie-based Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones include open GSMA-compliant eSIM technology, in addition to a nano-SIM, and thus work with eSIM-ready mobile operators like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T to name just a few.

After Apple’s eSIM support announcement for its iPhones, Samsung is a serious contender for the next large device manufacturer likely to launch an eSIM handset–followed by Huawei, LG, Xiaomi or even OPPO, according to ABI Research.

Indeed, with the help of Android’s worldwide footprint, Android eSIM support is a fantastic driver for increasing eSIM and adoption among consumer device markets worldwide among developing economies in particular. A country like India is the perfect example: Android addicted and eSIM early adopter. Imagine when affordable eSIM-ready Android smartphones come!

In parallel, mobile operators across all continents are getting ready to welcome the eSIM as well as eSIM-compliant Android devices. According to a recent eSIM survey by Gemalto, more than 250 eSIM managementplatforms are already deployed  worldwide, which represents 25% of all mobile operators. Operators have started to transform their mobile connectivity lifecycle management policy to fully embrace the eSIM potential.

As turning things on is part of the eSIM DNA, the eSIM will foster the emergence of new categories of Android devices that are easily mobile-connected. The eSIM can also simplify the overall user mobile journey, in particular at the early step of eSIM activation.

 

By : Sebastien Violette

sebastian-violette

He is working in marketing & communication for Gemalto in the Mobile Telecom Services and IoT Business. Passionate about contributing to the success of the company by valorizing its differentiation assets.

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