GigaOM has an interesting post up about how Apple is working with suppliers to create a universal SIM card. Of course, it’s got a scandalous title, but it really doesn’t seem like quite the horrific tale:
Sources inside European carriers have reportedÂ that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create aÂ special SIM card that would allow consumers in Europe to buy a phone via the web or at the Apple Store and get the phones working using Apple’s App Store.
It’s rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself. Then customers will then be able to choose their carrier at time of purchase at the Apple web site or retail store, or buy the phone and get their handset up and running through a download at the App Store as opposed to visiting a carrier store or calling the carrier. Either way, it reduces the role of the carrier in the iPhone purchase.Â Gemalto and Apple have not responded to requests for comment. I’m also waiting to hear back from other sources to get more details.
However, if Apple is doing an end run around the carrier by putting its own SIM inside the iPhone, it could do what GoogleÂ with its NexusOne could not, which is create an easy way to sell a handset via the web without carrier involvement. Much like it helped cut operators out of the app store game, Apple could be taking them out of the device retail game. Yes, carriers will still have to allow the phone to operate on their networks, which appears to be why executives from various French carriers have been to Cupertino in recent weeks.
OK, so although that’s a neat idea and all, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. It makes sense that Apple would try to make some universal SIM card because there are so many carriers in Europe. It would be cheaper to just make one phone than make one with a SIM slot that needs cards from the carriers. That said, it is interesting that this could open up new revenue streams by selling direct without a carrier, but you can do that today anyways.
Now what would be big news is if they had a universal SIM and CDMA chip. That would be neat.