The rumblings of rumor have surfaced about a partnership between Apple and Gemalto—a company that recently filed a patent lawsuit against Google—over the production of a SIM chip for iPhones. This sort of move will allow Apple to cut carriers out of the sale of iPhones and facilitate liberty for customers who want to get an iPhone and then choose their carrier; rather than having to go to a carrier to get their phone and thus locking them there.
According to GigaOM, although still rumor, the guessed details are hardly sketchy,
The Gemalto SIM, according to my sources, is embedded in a chip that has an upgradeable flash component and a ROM area. The ROM area contains data provided by Gemalto with everything related to IT and network security, except for the carrier related information. The flash component will receive the carrier related data via a local connection which could be the PC or a dedicated device, so it can be activated on the network. Gemalto will provide the back-end infrastructure that allows service and number provisioning on the carrier network.
With the use of flash memory, the SIM chip will permit users to purchase the phone “blank” from whomever they want and then visit the carrier to get it set to them. This means that a particular iPhone won’t have to be preconfigured by any carrier to work with them. The article mentions this is particularly sensitive for Europe which has highly competitive carriers who use similar networking protocols.
The development may be a huge boon for customers; but might end up becoming a nightmare for carriers as they’ll have to ramp up work on customer loyalty, else they could lose them to competitors much more easily. No more costly loss of the phone when switching, they can just change their SIM card information and float from one carrier to another.
The Gemalto lawsuit against Google alleges that the Android operating system infringes on their patents. As that’s such a recent development, and Gemalto has a large stake in the mobile industry (as seen in this possible partnership with Apple) it makes their lawsuit even more interesting. Apple and Google have long been neck and neck when it comes to smartphone competition.
Could this lawsuit have been designed to achieve a competitive edge?
The rumors are still developing, but a chip for Apple by Gemalto would have all the hallmarks of an epic win iPhone for customers.