Today, laptops are all about reliable connectivity, especially for people using their devices while on the move or from a remote location. Laptops with cellular connectivity are expected to be the next big innovation in the computer industry and are touted to revive dwindling sales of laptops. Although laptops with 4G LTE connectivity have been available for several years, staying connected internationally continues to be a clunky and frustrating process. This is because several cellular carriers offering international roaming do not allow the tethering feature, thereby compelling users to rely on internationally supported hotspots or local SIM cards. By eliminating the need for swapping a SIM card or purchasing a separate plan for international data, these laptops will relieve a major pain point for several international business travelers. The concept embraces huge potential to shape businesses across the globe by ensuring 24/7 access to information and real-time interaction with business partners and customers across the globe.
Most of the laptops available in the market utilize Wi-Fi (home, enterprise, or public hotspots) for connectivity. However, the information transferred over Wi-Fi technology is less secure in terms of both privacy and security. Thus, the concept of having a built-in cellular network connection in productivity-centric devices like laptops will offer not only ubiquitous connectivity on the move but also the requisite privacy and security. Cellular operators across the globe are foreseeing this as an opportunity to increase their average revenue per user. For instance, Reliance Jio, in association with American chipmaker Qualcomm, is planning to develop a laptop with a built-in cellular connection, especially for the Indian market. Similarly, the Internet of Things brands Smartron is also working in association with Qualcomm to develop laptops with in-built cellular connectivity. On the other hand, laptop manufacturers are estimating this as a futuristic potential avenue for business expansion. Manufacturers have so far been conservative in developing such laptops on a large scale due to supply and demand issues. In addition, manufacturers require the signing of complicated cellular contracts with specific data providers. In a few cases, users may be locked to one carrier, and since the swapping process is difficult, it only augments the technical complications that manufacturers need to look after. However, the impact of this challenge is presumed to diminish with the introduction of the e-SIM option in laptops. Lenovo recently (2017) announced the introduction of its e-SIM laptops, which have allowed business travelers to connect globally without swapping SIM cards.
The global market for SIM card-enabled laptops is classified as follows:
- Mac OS
- Others (Linux, DOS, etc.)
- North America
- rest of North America
- Rest of Europe
- Rest of Asia Pacific
Rest of the World
- Latin America
- Middle East and Africa
Key players identified across the entire SIM card-enabled laptop ecosystem (laptop manufacturers and cellular operators) include but are not limited to:
The Hewlett-Packard Company, Lenovo Group Ltd., AsusTek Computer, Inc., Apple, Inc., Dell, Inc., Fujitsu, Qualcomm, Inc., Smartron, AT&T, Inc., Jio Reliance, Sprint Corporation, and Verizon Wireless, Inc., among others.