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Wake up the sleeping beauty!

Week 17, 2009

The conference opened with an interview of Vivek Badrinath, EVP networks, carriers, platforms & infrastructure at Orange, who was from the very beginning a reassurance for the SIM industry “for us, the SIM is a wonderful tool,” he said. The SIM is the representation of the mobile network operator in the hands of the end user, it makes user registration and provisioning easy for the operator. But he added, “the SIM is a sleeping beauty”, it is now at a crossroads between the risk of commoditization, and the opportunity to become a service enabler with the advent of new services.

New technologies in direct relation with the SIM card abound. The whole industry is pushing for Smart Card Web Server (SCWS) that allows mobile network operators to benefit from all the ease of development and the look and feel of web applications for the applications they develop and install in the SIM card. SCWS presents a huge improvement over STK (SIM ToolKit) developments burdened with an uneasy access for the easer and a poor user interface.

A few other subjects are at the core of today’s developments in the SIM industry: M2M (machine to machine) is evaluated by all as a huge market, but, so far, most of it remains potential. As M2M implementations have different characteristics from regular user subscriptions, network operators have to develop new business models around the technology. The M2M ecosystem also has to agree on a common form factor, and to answer a recurrent question: is the M2M module to be soldered or detachable.

NFC (Near Field Communication) also represents a huge potential. Field trials multiply, users love the technology, and don’t want to give up the phones when pilots end. But the industry still has some maturing process to go through, and the whole ecosystem has to push in the same direction for NFC to happen, and to reach its full market potential.

The common point between all these technologies? SIM vendors cannot manage it all by themselves. They need the involvement of everyone in the industry, from mobile network operators to handset manufacturers including all software developers and system integrators to ensure a harmonious development of these technologies.

The sleeping beauty will not wake up by herself: industrywide cooperation will be the charming prince!

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief editor

Smart Insights