Apple to bypass carriers with iPhone SIM?

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Wireless
Having provided a huge retrograde step against open access with its carrier exclusive model, Apple could be preparing to bite the hand that has fed it for more than three years and create an open iPhone.
 
According to the GigaOM blog, sources within several European cellcos say Apple has been working with SIM card maker Gemalto on a special SIM that would allow users to buy an iPhone online and activate it with a range of networks, via the App Store. The story would also shed some light on Gemalto's recent decision to sue Apple arch-rival Google over alleged patent infringements in Android.
 
As in the iPad, the proposed card would not be transferable to other vendors' devices, but would allow customers to choose their operator at purchase, whether in an Apple retail store or online.
 
The phone would then be started up via a download from the App Store, rather than by calling the carrier - reducing the role of the operator in the iPhone purchase, perhaps more effectively (given the market pull of the iPhone) than Google's similar attempt with its Nexus One.
 
GigaOM says Apple could be creating 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.”
 
Having made the most of the cellcos' channels, and subsidy budgets, which gave the iPhone a huge kickstart, it may now want to broaden the routes to market and reduce their role. Especially now that most iPhone exclusives coming to an end, which gives large cellcos like Vodafone greater bargaining power, and less incentive to deal with Apple.
 

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