GSMA Approves Apple-style Programmable SIM Cards

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The organization that represents the majority of the mobile carriers around the world, the GSMA, approved programmable SIM cards that can be remotely activated on Thursday. The announcement follows rumors that Apple has been working on an embedded SIM card for the iPhone that can be activated for a carrier when the device is purchased, or via the iTunes Store.

The announcement could play a role in the design of upcoming iPhone models, although it isn’t likely the new SIMS will start showing up in devices before 2012.

iPhone 4Future iPhones could include embedded SIM cards

Embedded SIM cards could be big news for other markets, too. “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,” siad 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.”

Expect embedded SIMs to start showing up in devices other than cell phones such as Ereaders, navigation devices, digital cameras and portable media players, and smart utility meters, too.

The GSMA has formed a task force to determine market requirements that’s expected to report its findings in January, and devices with embedded SIMs should start hitting store shelves some time in 2012.

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Sounds good on the one hand, but kinda makes it hard to swap SIMs when travelling, unless part of the proposed spec allows for the user to switch between a multiplicity of previously-enabled (concurrent) ‘profiles’ or allow for a second, removable SIM to override the first (in the style of a PCs established ‘boot order’)

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