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The Inevitability of the Apple SIM Card

By Jesse Herman MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 3, 2010 5:00 AM PT

There has been an assortment of news concerning iOS updates, jailbreaks and carrier hacks recently. To make sense of it all, you have to put yourself in the other people's shoes. Personally, sandals are preferred, so allow me to flop around.

The Inevitability of the Apple SIM Card

Apple's new iPhone 5, expected out June of 2011, won't have one piece of gear that's common in other phones: a subscriber identity module (SIM) card.

This was big news for several phone carriers, particularly in the UK and Europe, who worried that SIM cards would give users more versatility and provide a medium for SIM-based applications and features. There is a long list of digital equipment that utilizes this technology already.

If it integrates SIM card technology into the iPhone 5, Apple would be limiting the power of the carriers, essentially telling them their relationship is not all that needed for promotion, anyway.

Coloring Inside the Lines

On the other end of the spectrum, the latest release of the iPhone operating system (iOS 4.2.1) took the iPhone Dev Team about 24 hours to jailbreak, which means for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, "restrictions" are nothing more than small hurdles if you simply shell out some cash or do some research to accomplish the feat yourself.

Even though carriers know this, they are banking on the fact that people are lazy and/or don't like to break the rules. Even though it is perfectly legal, some people don't like to venture outside of the parameters set by Apple and others. Or perhaps they have the money to pay whatever and don't really care one way or the other. The above thought processes are in clear opposition to my day-to-day life, but they're the reality for many.

What people don't know can clearly hurt them. As someone who has been traveling recently, I discovered the Google Voice app is a great way to make calls internationally without spending crazy amounts of money. The alternatives for people in regard to the carriers they use are abundant.

Back to focus -- Apple does not need a partnership with any certain carrier. This is not to say the company wants to burn bridges, but it is fully aware of the options at hand for any users who want to reach their hack goals, so by not simply opening up the floodgates, Apple is basically telling carriers, "You are welcome, (insert insult here)."

The European Way

The threats by European phone networks to stop subsidizing the cost of the iPhone if Apple should continue with the plan no doubt played a role in the decision to stop (delay) the SIM card.

Europeans treat their phones a bit different than those in the United States, sometimes owning multiple phones and often switching out cards with other phones.

Should American customers pay for European control? The United States is moving to LTE 4G networks, and a programmable SIM card is the way to go. The programmable SIM card opens up competition and, as a result, will bring down some of the outrageous costs that currently exist.

According to U.S. antitrust laws, companies can not impede on innovation that would threaten their current leverage. Essentially, the programmable SIM card is inevitable, and the current decision will be reversed by Apple because long-term, it will be best for Apple and the consumer -- and legally, it should be allowed without strong-arm tactics.

Large corporate overlords flexing their proverbial muscles at the expense of consumers is hardly a new concept, but in this case, it should not last for long.


Jesse Herman is a freelance writer and founder of the RepairLaunch repair services network.


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