Apple Developing Custom Built-In SIM Card for iPhone?


GigaOM reports that Apple has partnered with digital security firm Gemalto to create a custom SIM card that would exist as a built-in chip inside the iPhone to allow users to activate their devices with a broad array of carriers without requiring extensive interactions directly with the carriers.

It is 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 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.

The report notes that the new technology would be of most use in Europe, where there are many competitive carriers operating on similar technologies within a relatively compact geographic area.

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.

Sources for the report have indicated that executives from several French carriers have traveled to Apple's Cupertino headquarters in recent weeks to discuss the development, which could allow Apple to significantly simplify the iPhone sales and distribution process while offering customers the flexibility to easily activate service and switch carriers on their own.

Apple's iPhone currently utilizes a removable SIM card, issued by the user's carrier to allow the device to operate on its network.

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