The notion that Apple may be planning to use embedded SIM cards in future iPhone models has at least some of Europes cell service providers hot under the collar. According to the Financial Times, some of Europe’s mobile service providers are threatening to withhold iPhone subsidies should Apple adopt the newly approved SIM card format.
The problem with the new style SIM, according to the carriers, is that Apple could potentially use it to side-step mobile operator’s relationship with end users. They fear the cards could also be a first step in Apple selling its own service, or serve as a bargaining tool for customers demanding shorter contract lengths.
Europe’s cell carriers aren’t hip on embedded SIMs
The GSMA — the organization that oversees mobile communication interests — approved the programmable SIM cards earlier this week and comes on the tail of rumors that Apple has been working on an embedded programmable SIM card for future iPhone models. The card could potentially be activated for a carrier when the device is purchased, or via the iTunes Store.
Even if Apple doesn’t head down the embedded SIM path, the technology could still prove useful for devices outside of the mobile phone market.
“As our industry moves from connecting phones to connecting a wide range of devices, it is apparent that the embedded SIM could deliver even greater flexibility,” commented GSMA CEO and board member Rob Conway. “The embedded SIM will provide assured levels of security and portability for consumers, as well as provide additional functionality for enabling new services such as e-Wallet and NFC applications.”
Should Apple embrace embedded SIM cards and Europe’s cell carriers retaliate, the battle could eventually draw in the European Commission, too, since they could be seen as blocking competition — something that Apple’s been accused of in the past.