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Trusted Connectivity Alliance Reports that Consumer eSIM Adoption Doubled in 2023 as Digitalisation of SIM Market Accelerates

April 2024 by Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA)

Consumer adoption of eSIM technology continues to grow rapidly, according to exclusive market monitoring figures released today by Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA). The latest data shows that consumer eSIM profile downloads* more than doubled in 2023, increasing 109% year-on-year.

Growth was predominantly driven by accelerating adoption within the North American market, where the wide availability and demand for eSIM-only smartphone models has seen leading mobile operators transition to ‘digital-first’ strategies. Adoption rates also doubled across Asia and Western Europe.

Future growth in consumer eSIM adoption is expected to be boosted by the launch of eSIM-only smartphones across more regions, coupled with the broader availability of eSIM-enabled devices. Rebounding levels of international travel —anticipated to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2024—also stand to support increased uptake as consumers turn to eSIM for greater choice and convenience when roaming.

The overall upswing in consumer adoption was supported by significant ongoing investment in eSIM Subscription Manager (SM) platforms, which enable the remote provisioning and lifecycle management of eSIMs. The number of deployed consumer eSIM SM platforms rose by 25% in 2023 as mobile operators continued to bolster their digital capabilities.

TCA provides exclusive statistical insight into the global SIM and eSIM ecosystem based on members’ market data, offering authoritative insight which is trusted by stakeholders across the mobile industry. Other key industry trends in 2023 included:

Strong Foundation for Growing eSIM Adoption Across Automotive and IoT Verticals

M2M eSIM adoption—predominantly focused across automotive use-cases—was also supported by a 12% increase in the deployment of M2M eSIM SM platforms.

Looking ahead, global standardisation efforts such as GSMA’s eSIM for IoT Specifications (SGP.31 and SGP.32) will play an important role in promoting increased eSIM adoption across IoT verticals. The specifications introduce new, dedicated features to meet specific IoT requirements, simplifying deployments at massive scale and addressing the challenges associated with remotely provisioning and managing constrained IoT devices.

eSIM Volumes Resilient Despite Significant Economic Uncertainty

TCA is also the only organisation to offer a quantitative global view of eSIM shipment volumes, providing both actual and forecast data. eSIM shipments collectively reported by TCA members decreased marginally by 2% to 374 million units, with TCA estimating that the total available market for eSIM was 390 million units in 2023.

Notably, volumes remained stable in the face of strong macro-economic headwinds. Global inflationary pressures and the ‘cost-of-living’ crisis reduced overall consumer demand for smartphones and mobile subscriptions in 2023, though easing inflation towards the end of the year points towards a more positive outlook for 2024. The ongoing impact of the global chip shortage—which saw operators overstock in 2022 to mitigate potential supply chain pressures—also tempered demand but is anticipated to rebalance towards normal levels in 2024.

Digitalisation of the SIM Market Accelerates

The market for ‘traditional’ SIM was similarly shaped by broader macro-economic factors, with TCA estimating the total available market for SIM (excluding eSIM) reduced by 7% to 3.8 billion units in 2023. There was also a clear trend signalling the increasing digitalisation of the overall SIM market amid accelerating eSIM adoption in key regions such as North America.

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