Apple is working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to develop an open SIM card that would allow iPhone owners to freely switch between carriers.
According to sources inside European carriers, Apple is reportedly creating a SIM card that would be integrated into the phone itself, allowing users to buy an iPhone directly from an Apple Store or online and start using it on their preferred network.
The way it is said to work is by loading the subscriber identification information of multiple carriers into the small chip that resides on a SIM card, instead of a single carrier it typically contains. This will allow users to change their network at any time, presumably via a built-in application.
The ramifications of such an approach could be huge, as it would effectively make the iPhone unlocked and ready to be used on any network, thus taking away one of the key motivations for jailbreaking. It could also succeed in an area where Google failed with its Nexus One, which is yet to establish a successful e-commerce model.
It makes sense, too, that Apple is planning on trialling this technology in Europe first, since the iPhone is available on multiple networks here unlike the US where it is exclusive to AT&T.
We don’t really expect Apple to completely turn its back on carriers. Not by a long stretch. But it could go a long away towards giving consumers who get tied into long and expensive contracts more freedom.