I find it ridiculous that companies are positioning eSIM as "innovative" -- we already had the exact same thing in the US back with CDMA, and it was awful. eSIM is no different.
Ideally either approach would work, it’d really depend on how mobile service providers around the world adopt eSIM.
I guess that would be easier with eSIM, because you could buy a plan that's targeted at travellers (instead of locals), and you wouldn't be limited to the SIM card selection they sell at the gas station.
The carriers could still sell you a SIM and plan, but the administrative overhead for verifying the information of foreigners is probably deemed too large to still make these short term plans profitable by their metrics.
Many android phones offer dual SIM trays which shouldn't even preclude the ability to offer esim.
With esim, the barrier to entry is lower -- a virtual mobile network operator could target travellers and make it easy to get a temporary SIM, without having to first build up a huge distribution network for physical SIM cards.
It would even make it possible to get a temporary SIM card from a different country, which would circumvent some of the restrictive regulations (eg. Germany requires registration with address for phones registered in Germany but allows you to use an "anonymous" phone registered in another country.)
I'm assuming it's a move to try and make life inconvenient for people who want to buy used phones instead of getting a new one through them.
That ship already sailed when the concept of "locked phones" was introduced. A concept Apple already bought into with the first iPhone.